Giulio Regeni was 'interrogated' for days: forensics expert

Giulio Regeni was 'interrogated' for days: forensics expert
An Egyptian forensics official has concluded that Giulio Regeni was interrogated for up to seven days before he was killed in Cairo last month.
3 min read
01 March, 2016
It is thought Regeni suffered through immensely painful torture before his death [Getty]
The autopsy conducted by an Egyptian forensics official on an Italian student found dead in Cairo last month has shown that he was "interrogated" for up to seven days before he was killed, said prosecution sources.

The findings are the strongest indication yet that Giulio Regeni was killed by Egyptian security services because they point to "enhanced interrogation methods" - also known more simply as torture - such as burning skin with cigarettes in intervals over several days, which human rights groups say are the hallmark of the security services.

The prosecution sources told Reuters that Hisham Abdel Hamid, director of Egypt's forensic medicine authority, gave his findings during questioning as an expert in the public prosecutor's office last week.

"We asked Hisham Abdel Hamid to appear before the prosecutor's office for questioning, to ask him questions about the autopsy," an investigator in the prosecutor's office told Reuters, adding that Abdel Hamid was accompanied by two associates who also took part in the post-mortem examination.

"Abdel Hamid said, during the questioning, that the wounds on the body occurred over different intervals of between 10-14 hours. That means that whoever is accused of killing him was interrogating him for information."

In the past, the interior ministry has rejected accusations of human rights abuses.

However, despite the lack of any official findings to date, Egypt's interior ministry has suggested revenge or personal reasons as the latest possible motives behind Regeni's murder, a theory quickly dismissed by Italy.

"The investigation leads to several possibilities including criminal activity or the desire for revenge due to personal reasons, especially as the Italian had many relationships with people near where he lived and studied," the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency MENA.

Murder 'cover-up'

Last week, the head of Italy's parliamentary intelligence oversight committee COPASIR said that Egypt was trying to "cover-up" Regeni's murder.

"Egypt's implausible findings are infuriating, clumsy and unacceptable attempts to provide a convenient truth," Giacomo Stucchi said at the time.

"Our police officers [in Cairo] have all the audio and video evidence, as well as news on Regeni's last contacts and movements," Stucchi added.

Regeni's corpse was found bearing torture marks more than a week after he went missing in downtown Cairo on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's implausible findings are infuriating, clumsy and unacceptable attempts to provide a convenient truth.
- Giacomo Stucchi

Initial autopsy results by Egypt's forensic medicine authority showed Regeni had been hit on the back of the head with a sharp instrument, without specifying what might have caused it.

However, a senior source inside Egypt's forensics authority later told Reuters that the victim's body had seven broken ribs, signs of electric shock on his penis, traumatic injuries all over his body, and a brain hemorrhage.

His body also bore signs of cuts from a sharp instrument suspected to be a razor, as well as abrasions and bruises. He was likely assaulted using a wooden baton as well as being punched and kicked, the source added.

A second autopsy in Italy "confronted us with something inhuman, something animal", Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfa has said without elaborating further.

The 28-year-old PhD student, who was in Cairo researching for his Cambridge University doctoral thesis on trade unions in Egypt, had written articles critical of the Egyptian government, said the Italian newspaper that published them.