Italy lawmakers probing PhD student Giulio Regeni's Egypt killing to visit Cambridge

Italy lawmakers probing PhD student Giulio Regeni's Egypt killing to visit Cambridge
The Italian representatives will head to the UK city where Giulio Regeni was studying at the time he was murdered in Egypt.
3 min read
27 September, 2021
Regeni's 2016 murder sparked protests across Europe [VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images-archive]

An investigation into the slaying of Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni in Egypt will see Italian lawmakers visit the UK and meet with figures from the University of Cambridge.

The Italian representatives will this week head to the ancient city where the university at which Regeni, 28, was studying for his PhD is located, The Guardian reported on Sunday.

He was in Cairo conducting research into the highly sensitive topic of trade unions in Egypt when he was kidnapped and murdered - which critics believe was carried out by Egyptian security forces.

In 2020, four high-level security figures in Egypt were charged in connection with their alleged part in Regeni's 2016 abduction and death, though proceedings will take place without their presence as Cairo would not agree to extradite the accused.

Free and Equal MP Erasmo Palazzotto, who heads the parliamentary investigation into Regeni's death, spoke with The Guardian, explaining: "We are not here to investigate Cambridge."

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"We know those responsible for Giulio's abduction, torture and murder are in Egypt. We are here because we believe their help is needed."

He said lawmakers had been communicating with officials at Cambridge for the past few months and that the university demonstrated they are prepared to work with the probe.

Their cooperation is required to get to the truth behind "some… unanswered questions".

The university dean and other officials will speak with the Italian lawmakers. They will also meet academics Regeni worked with and who are knowledgeable about the Middle East region.

The MPs asked to speak with the murdered student's supervisor, Dr Maha Abdelrahman.

Michele Prestipino, Rome's chief prosecutor, claimed last February that her reluctance to work with an Italian probe into the murder was a "mystery".

The academic spent time away from teaching following Regeni's killing and people said the event had profoundly impacted her.

Hundreds of scholars from around the globe, including renowned anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod, came out to support her in 2017 in an open letter.

They backed Abdelrahman against accusations of "commission[ing]" Regeni to work on something he had been hesitant about and she understood to be perilous.

Palazzotto suggested: "Her reluctance to collaborate with the Italian prosecutors was a problem for the investigation."

"I hope she agrees to speak with us."

He said he "hope[s]" Abdelrahman assists the lawmakers in "understand[ing] what happened" and explains her reasons for not working with prosecutors.

Palazzotto's delegation intends to speak with UK government officials on Wednesday about the Italian student's death.

He asserted Regeni's murder demonstrates "the Egyptian regime does not spare Europeans from violence, to whom it reserves the brutal treatment that its citizens suffer every day".

He also called for the UK and European authorities to stop their "friendly and economic relations" with Cairo.

Italy and other European nations have sold arms to Egypt and France even provided Egypt President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi its greatest award, the Legion of Honour, in 2020.

Palazzotto's investigation in the Italian parliament will end this Sunday, while in two weeks details of the meetings with Cambridge officials are to be published.