Egypt: Italian student's corpse found bearing marks of torture

Egypt: Italian student's corpse found bearing marks of torture
Giulio Regeni went missing in Cairo on the anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian revolution, amid a security crackdown. On Wednesday, his body was recovered showing signs of torture.
3 min read
04 February, 2016
Regeni was a student of Arabic literature [Twitter]

Italy is demanding that Egypt authorise a joint investigation into the death and reported torture of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge University PhD student who mysteriously disappeared in Cairo last month, officials said on Thursday.

A body believed to be that of Regeni's was found on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on Wednesday.

Although its identity has still to be officially confirmed, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni has offered his condolences to Regeni's family, and the 28-year-old's parents have flown to Cairo to recover their son's body.

A spokesman for the Italian foreign ministry said he could not comment on reports in the Egyptian and Italian media that Regeni's naked corpse had been found dumped in a ditch bearing wounds, including burn marks, that indicated he may have been tortured.

"An investigation is underway. We hope to be able to provide an update later in the day," he said.

In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the ministry said Rome had "asked the Egyptian authorities for maximum commitment to establishing the truth and the course of events, as well as the immediate opening of a joint investigation with the participation of Italian experts".

An investigation is underway. We hope to be able to provide an update later in the day

Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi, who was in Cairo when the body was discovered, cancelled the final day of a trade mission involving some 60 Italian companies in reaction to the news.

Hours earlier she had, according to the Italian media, urged Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to intervene personally in the investigation into Regeni's disappearance, underlining the potential for the case to disrupt normally close diplomatic ties between Rome and Cairo.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was the first Western leader to receive former army chief Sisi after his 2013 overthrow of his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi.

Arabic literature student

Regeni, whose studies included Arabic and Arab literature, was from Fiumicello near Udine in northeastern Italy.

He was in Cairo researching his doctoral thesis, and was last seen on 25 January - the anniversary of the 2011 revolution - when he left his suburban home with the intention of travelling by metro to meet a friend in the city centre.

Cairo was extremely quiet on the day he disappeared, as a result of the authorities having ordered a security crackdown on the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising which ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign.

A subsequent military coup two years later led to a clampdown on all critics of the new Egyptian regime.

Torture is common in Egyptian jails, report human rights groups, and many detainees have died in custody. 

In response to the news, Egyptian rights activist Mona Seif pleaded with foreigners not to travel to the country given the current security situation. 

"We've grown so accustomed to daily news of torture, abductions and deaths, that we've almost accepted them as integral part of our identities, an inevitable price for our citizenship," she wrote.

"But I can't imagine how it feels to lose a loved one to this ugliness, and in a country far away from home. I am very sorry Giulio's warmth and enthusiasm towards Egypt was rewarded with such pain and cruelty."