Italian newspaper sheds light on hundreds of forced disappearances in Egypt
Courtesy: Corriere della Sera

Prompted by the assertion that Giulio Regeni’s murder “is not an isolated case,” as proclaimed by his mother and dozens of Egyptian activists, on Sunday the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published the names of more than 390 Egyptians who have been forcibly disappeared since August 2015.

“The truth about Giulio has not yet emerged, but his death has brought the phenomenon of forced disappearances to public attention,” the newspaper wrote.   

The Italian PhD student was found in February by the side of a road in the Giza suburb of 6th of October City. His body bore signs of torture including cigarette burns, bruises, cuts and multiple stab wounds. The 28-year-old went missing on January 25, 2016 — the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution — after he was reportedly headed to the downtown Cairo district of Bab al-Louq near Tahrir Square.

Regeni’s disappearance and murder has brought international attention to the rising number of forced disappearances in Egypt.

While more than 500 people have been forcibly disappeared in the past year, Corriere della Sera said, some of them have since been found, while at least 396 people remain unaccounted for. The newspaper said it obtained the data from the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) and Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.

The story was published under a powerful photo mosaic of hundreds of photos of Egyptians who have disappeared, the images combining to form Regeni’s face. The newspaper listed over 390 names of people who are still missing, including their ages, the date they disappeared and the conditions under which they went missing. It also highlighted 15 specific cases, whose stories are told in detail in another article.

There is Islam Qarqura, a 30-year-old engineer who was apprehended in front of his house in Kafr al-Sheikh on March 10. “An hour after his arrest, his father saw him at the police station, but later the officers denied his presence or that they visited their home,” Corriere della Sera said.

Abdel Rahman Sayed Mahmoud, a 21-year-old Helwan University student, disappeared in August 2015. According to eyewitnesses, armed uniformed and plainclothes officers blindfolded him and took him off of a microbus at 10:30 pm while he was on his way home from work.

The cases are listed in an interactive database in Italian, and are being translated into English.

In a televised press conference late last month at Italy’s Senate, Regeni’s parents questioned the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s latest claim that their son died at the hands of an alleged gang that targets foreigners. The Interior Ministry had issued a detailed statement claiming that police had killed all the gang members on March 24.  

During the press conference, Regeni’s mother said her son’s murder was “not an isolated case, like the Egyptian government said.” 

A delegation of Egyptian prosecutors was scheduled to fly to Rome on April 5 to meet with their Italian counterparts to present their findings from the ongoing investigation. However, on Monday, the London-based newspaper The Guardian reported that the meeting has been pushed back to later this week.


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