A senior police officer in charge of the preliminary investigation into the murder of visiting Italian student Giulio Regeni has a prior conviction for torturing a man to death and forging a police report, according to rights activists.
Alexandria Criminal Court sentenced Major General Khaled Shalaby to one year in prison in 2003 on charges of complicity in the abduction, torture, and murder of an Egyptian man, identified as Shawqy Abdel Aal, as well as falsifing official documents, according to human rights reports. However, Shalaby, along with two fellow officers from Alexandria’s Montazah Police Station, was issued a suspended sentence.
Shalaby, who currently serves as chief of Giza’s General Directorate for Police Investigations, was involved in Egypt’s fact-finding committee investigating Regeni’s brutal murder. He claimed Regeni died in a traffic accident, the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper reported, stating that there is no suspicion of foul play in the death of the 28-year-old Italian doctoral candidate. Preliminary findings revealed no signs of gunshot or stab wounds on Regeni’s body, Shalaby alleged.
When Regeni’s body was flown to Italy for an autopsy, however, coroners documented several stab wounds, along with cigarette burns, ripped-out nails, broken fingers, among other serious injuries. Italy’s Interior Ministry reported that Regeni was subjected to “animal-like” brutality and torture.
At a ministerial press conference on Monday, Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar commented that he was “disturbed by the coverage of some media outlets,” who he accused of “jumping to conclusions.”
“Some have implied that Egypt’s security services are involved in this incident,” he noted, stating that the ministry “only received notice of Regeni’s disappearance on January 27.”
Regeni disappeared on January 25, the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak, as he was heading toward the downtown Cairo district of Bab al-Louq, nearby Tahrir Square, which was occupied by heavily armed police forces for the occasion.
Abdel Ghaffar went on to state that Egypt’s security forces are conducting investigations with “complete transparency and professionalism” to help identify those responsible for Regeni’s death.
On Monday, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told the Rome-based La Repubblica newspaper that Italy “will not settle for purported truths, as we have said on the occasion of the two arrests initially linked to the death of Giulio Regeni.”
Gentiloni was referring to Egyptian security forces’ reports that two suspects in Regeni’s death were arrested days ago. Scant information has been released on these suspects, who were described by Interior Ministry sources as criminals who are not linked to any terrorist organization.