Italian writer sheds light on new motives, suspects in Regeni murder, says case used to destroy Cairo-Rome ties

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Sun, 14 Feb 2021 - 08:16 GMT

FILE - An international activist holds a placard reading "truth for Giulio Regeni" in Rome - Reuters

FILE - An international activist holds a placard reading "truth for Giulio Regeni" in Rome - Reuters

CAIRO – 14 February 2021: Leopoldo Salmaso, an Italian doctor and a political author, has accused officials at security authorities in Rome and London of planning and executing the assassination of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016 for political reasons.

Salmaso, in an article he wrote in ComeDonChisciotte, claimed that the turbulence following Regeni’s murder only aimed to destroy the good relations between Egypt and Italy and harm the two countries’ joint economic interests.

Salmazo believes that the entire Regeni case was made in order to re-plan the sources of energy in the Mediterranean, or in a direct sense, in order to deprive Italy from the big opportunities of cooperation in the gas field.

The author claims that Regeni had been trained in the United States in intelligence-related institutions before travelling to Cairo. He was also trained in in Oxford Analytica, which the writer calls a multinational espionage company.

Salmaso said Regeni In Cairo searched for opposition figures who seek to destabilize the Egyptian state after the June 2013 revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood term. The author added that an Egyptian citizen reported the matter to the security authorities after questioning Regeni’s intentions.

Salmaso also thinks that the assassins of Regeni are those who sent him, as they thought he became exposed to Egyptian security authorities.

The author also thinks Regeni’s mother played a role in hiding the truth about her son’s murder through preventing security authorities in Egypt from having his laptop from his Cairo residence as an evidence.

Conflicting conclusions

In November, the Italian Public Prosecution in Rome said five persons belonging to security authorities are suspects in the Italian student’s murder case, but the Egyptian prosecution sees the suspicion "baseless".

Regeni, a 28-year old doctoral researcher, disappeared early in 2016 in the Egyptian capital; he was found dead in February of the same year, with his body bearing signs of torture. The perpetrators of the crime have not yet been brought to justice despite judicial cooperation between Egypt and Italy.

The Egyptian prosecution said, in a joint statement by both prosecutions, that Regeni had been a victim of a robbery gang, saying it could find his belongings in the apartment of one of the gang’s members.

It, however, affirmed that Regeni’s murderer is still unknown to the Egyptian side.

The Rome prosecution, on the other side, decided to close the investigation after it found that five persons belonging to security authorities are suspects in the case, a finding that the Egyptian prosecution says it does not agree with.

“The Egyptian Public Prosecution, despite understanding and appreciating the Italian legal procedures. However, it completely has reservations on this suspicion and does not endorse it, as it is not based on firm evidence,” read the statement.

The Egyptian prosecution says it understands the independent decisions that the Rome prosecution will take based on this finding.

According to the findings of the Egyptian prosecution, the robbery gang that victimized Regeni had committed similar crimes using fake documents claiming they are part of an Egyptian security authority.

“The Egyptian Public Prosecution will deal with that incident in this way,” the statement added.

The Egyptian prosecution noted that it will “temporarily close” investigations in the case and will assign search and investigation departments to take the required procedures to find the perpetrator of the crime.

It added that the Rome prosecution accepts the Egyptian side’s decision.

“Finally, the two sides have showed their commitment to continue judicial cooperation between each other and to submit all information that is to be reached around the incident to uncover the truth,” the statement said.

“The two prosecutions affirm that the judicial cooperation between them has been and will remain at the highest levels in all judicial fields,” the statement added.

No base for filing case

A month later, the Egyptian Public Prosecutor announced that currently there is no base for filing a criminal case on the killing, abduction, and physical torture incident of Regeni.

The Public Prosecutor instructed investigation entities to carry on their work to identify the culprit(s), and dropped the charges against four officers and a policeman affiliated to the National Security Agency.

Furthermore, the criminal case of robbery is dropped given the death of the defendants.

The Public Prosecution began investigation on February 3, 2016 when citizens found the body of the victim on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road. The investigations lasted for almost five years

In those years, the Public Prosecution determined the events that occurred since his disappearance until the body was found as well as the details of his stay in Egypt. During that time, he traveled to and from Egypt several times having as destinations Italy, Turkey, and Israel.

The investigations also identified his Egyptian and non-Egyptian acquaintances. That is in addition to his moves within the framework of the scientific research he was conducting on syndicates, workers' movements, and independent syndicates, particularly the syndicate of pedestrian vendors and irregular workers under the supervision of the American University in Cairo (AUC).

The investigations also closely delineated his activities in the last days before his disappearance and on the day he disappeared until the body was found.

The Public Prosecution took measures for the autopsy to take place in order to determine the cause of death. Also, his clothes; objects from where the body was lying; the data on the victim's phone's SIM card; SIM cards that were present in the place where he was last there and the place where the body was found; and, the content of surveillance cameras located where he disappeared were analyzed.

Moreover, the Public Prosecution got testimonies from almost 120 witnesses, and requested investigations by security agencies. Such investigations indicated that the victim – within the framework of carrying out a scientific research – was in contact with a number of members of the independent syndicates of freelance professions and pedestrian vendors as well as members of various political groups.

The victim was present in sites where they meet, and criticized in his conversations with them the behavior of certain political groups in the country and how they handle political mobility. He expressed concern over the danger such groups compose to the stability of Egypt. Investigations proved the victim's talks with pedestrian vendors about the ruling system in Egypt, and that he was asserting they can change the status quo like what happened in other countries.

The Public Prosecution inspected the residence of the victim in Egypt, and found out that his parents had collected all his belongings, including his laptop, right after his death was announced.

for judicial cooperation, the Egyptian Public Prosecution informed the Prosecution of the Republic in Rome of the updates of the investigation. That was through 15 bilateral meetings among the investigation teams of each country' prosecution. It also sent to its Italian counterpart certain requests - over five communications - as those would help in the investigation.

Nevertheless, the Italian prosecution did not fulfill some of those requests such as sending Regeni's laptop, and the testimonies of witnesses interrogated by Italian authorities without indicating "good enough" reasons. The excuse was that Italy is committed to not disclose the information it acquired from other states to Egypt or any other state. Since the Egyptian Public Prosecution is the original entity responsible for the investigation, such act does not match norms in international judicial cooperation, the statement issued Wednesday says. 

On the other hand, the Egyptian Public Prosecution received from its Italian counterpart requests – over four communications – and fulfilled most of them, except for extracting the identities of all individuals who were present and moving between five underground metro stations in Cairo from cell phone service providers as well as providing the names of all foreigners that were arrested or stopped by police since the evening of the same day he disappeared and until the body was found. That is because such measures would violate the privacy of Egyptian individuals and international human rights law.

The Public Prosecution asked for judicial help from the United Kingdom to get from Cambridge University information on the nature of the study the victim was conducting and reasons behind his travel to Egypt. The Egyptian Public Prosecution also wanted to know the testimonies of the supervisors who were supervising the research and sources of funding. The Prosecution also requested judicial help from Kenya to acquire the testimony of a witness in Kenya, who claimed he heard Regeni talk with an Egyptian officer. Yet, none of these states approved without indicating reasons.

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