Italian judge orders trial of four Egyptian officers for murder of Regeni

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An Italian judge on Tuesday ordered four senior Egyptian security officials to stand trial for their alleged role in the disappearance and murder of student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016.

Regeni, a postgraduate student at the British University of Cambridge, disappeared in the Egyptian capital in January 2016. His body was found almost a week later and a post-mortem examination showed he had been tortured before his death.

Italian prosecutors say their investigation showed four Egyptian officials were responsible for the “aggravated kidnapping” of Regeni, while one of the four was also involved in a “conspiracy to commit aggravated murder”.

Presiding over a preliminary hearing, Judge Pierluigi Balestrieri said there was enough evidence to charge the men and ordered their trial to begin on October 14.

There was no immediate comment from Egypt. Egyptian police and officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in Regeni’s disappearance and murder. Read more

Italian and Egyptian prosecutors investigated the case together, but the two sides subsequently argued and came to very different conclusions.

The four indicted men have been cited in court documents as Major Magdi Sharif of General Intelligence; Major General Tarek Sabir, former head of state security; Police Colonel Hisham Helmy; and Colonel Ather Kamal, former head of investigations in the municipality of Cairo.

Sharif was the only one of the four to face the murder charge.

‘RIGHT TO THE TRUTH’

Italian judicial sources said their Egyptian counterparts had not provided the addresses of the four officials and that none of them are expected to attend the trial.

Court-appointed defense attorneys argued on Tuesday that the case should not proceed as it was unclear whether any of the suspects knew about the proceedings.

The judge dismissed their objection, saying the news of the investigation would have reached them anyway.

Regeni’s parents were at the courthouse on Tuesday and praised the judge’s decision, the family’s attorney said.

“We hope that at least the right to the truth will not be denied to Giulio. All other rights have been denied to him,” Alessandra Ballerini told reporters.

Regeni had gone to Cairo to research Egyptian independent trade unions for his doctoral thesis. Associates say he was also interested in the long-standing domination of the Egyptian economy by the state and the military. Both subjects are sensitive in Egypt.

Prosecutors say they have evidence showing that Sharif convinced informants to follow Regeni and ultimately had him arrested. The prosecution record says that Sharif and other unidentified Egyptian officials then tortured Regeni for several days, causing him “severe physical suffering”.

Giving details of the autopsy, prosecutors say Regeni’s teeth were broken, while he also suffered from multiple fractures to his shoulders, wrist, hands and feet. He was eventually killed with a blow to the neck.

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