Egypt top importer of Italian weapons despite ongoing Regeni case

Egypt top importer of Italian weapons despite ongoing Regeni case
Despite Egyptian security officers being suspected of the shocking murder of Italian student Guilio Regeni, Egypt has been Italy's biggest military export customer for two years in a row.
2 min read
30 April, 2021
Italian legal authorities are pursuing an ongoing case over student Guilio Regeni's murder [Getty]
Egypt has been the top main importer of weapons systems from Italian military companies for the second year in a row, the Italian Network for Peace and Disarmament revealed on Thursday, despite an ongoing legal case against Egyptian officials the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni. 

"Arms trade with the authoritarian Al-Sisi government remains flourishing, despite the serious violations of human rights and non-cooperation in the Regeni and [Patrick] Zaki cases," the network said.

Regeni, a postgraduate student at Cambridge University, went missing in Cairo in January 2016.

Nine days later, his body was found in a ditch at the side of a road to Alexandria. A post-mortem examination showed he was tortured prior to his death.

A witness, who was identified by Italian legal authorities, said he saw Regeni in an Egyptian police station days before his death.

Additionally Patrick Zaki, an Egyptian studying in Italy, was arrested upon his arrival in Egypt in February 2020 and has been awaiting trial since, after being accused of spreading fake news and inciting anti-government protests.

The Italian Network for Peace and Disarmament said that while arms exports decreased between 2019 and 2020, this was mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“During 2020, the total amount of new authorisations issued for the export of military equipment reached €3,927 million [US$4,760 million] in value, a sharp drop (-25%) compared to the total for 2019," it said in the statement.

“It should be remembered that 2020 was the 'year of the pandemic', with a very strong impact on [Egypt's] economy, which, however, does not seem to have overwhelmed the military sector," it added.

Read more: Al Araby investigation reveals damning details of Egyptian officers' involvement in Regeni torture and murder

Italian prosecutors requested that a judge put four officials of Egypt’s security services on trial over their suspected role of the “aggravated kidnapping” of Regeni and “conspiracy to commit aggravated murder,” The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

However Cairo refuses to recognise the legal process or extradite the four suspects.

Preliminary hearings have been deferred until 25 May, following one of the Egyptian suspects' state-appointed defence lawyers' self isolation after being exposed to Covid-19.

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