Update: Italian judicial sources refute anonymous tip on Regeni’s death to La Repubblica

Anonymous emails on Italian student Giulio Regeni’s torture and murder that were sent to La Repubblica have “no relevance” to the investigation on his death, Italian judicial sources said on Wednesday afternoon, Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) reported.

The emails, which accuse Egyptian police chief Khaled Shalaby of ordering Regeni’s abduction are “full of innacuracies,” Italy’s leading wire agency ANSA asserted, adding that an Egyptian delegation is about to embark on two days of meetings with their Italian counterparts at 10 am on Thursday, Italian authorities confirmed. 

An email sent to Italian newspaper La Repubblica by an anonymous “Egyptian security source” claims Regeni was tortured to death by Egyptian Military Intelligence for refusing to answer questions relating to his work on labor unions in Egypt.

The email from the anonymous security source was sent to La Repubblica from a Yahoo account and was written mostly in Arabic, with some English and Italian interspersed. Mada Masr has been unable to independently verify the details of the account, but an almost identical one was published by former police officer Omar Afify on his Facebook page in February.

Afify has been living in the United States since he left Egypt’s police force. He gained notoriety in 2011, when he claimed to be involved in the organization of the January 25 Tahrir Square protests and made several videos with messages to protesters. He has taken a strong critical stand against the current government, making claims that are often based on his own analysis from anonymous security sources.

La Repubblica interviewed President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in March over Regeni’s death. “We will spare no efforts and continue to work with the Italian authorities to arrest the perpetrators, so that they can be punished according to the law,” he told the Rome-based publication.

Citing the anonymous source, La Repubblica claims that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, the heads of two intelligence bodies and National Security adviser Fayza Aboul Naga met following Regeni’s death and decided to blame the murder on a crime related to robbery and homosexuality and to dispose of his body on the road.

Regeni threatened the military men detaining him that their actions would have repercussions on Italian-Egyptian relations, according to the security source, which prompted beatings and resulted in him losing consciousness several times. The last time, they were unable to revive him, the source said, adding that his body was placed in a refrigerator at Kobry al-Qubba military hospital under police watch, until a decision could be made as to what to do with it. 

According to the security source, Khaled Shalaby, chief of Giza’s General Directorate for Police Investigations, ordered Regeni’s arrest. Shalaby was the officer in charge of the preliminary investigation into Regeni’s murder, and reportedly has a prior conviction for torturing a man to death and forging a police report.

When Regeni refused to answer any of Shalaby’s questions about his contacts in the labor movement, even after being beaten, he was ordered to be transferred to the National Security Agency headquarters in Nasr City, an order that was issued by Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, according to the source’s account. At National Security, Regeni also refused to talk in the absence of an embassy representative and was beaten again for two days until he was semi-conscious, the source added. 

When Regeni refused to cooperate, National Security handed the matter over to Ahmad Gamal Eddin, an adviser to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who transferred him to Military Intelligence. The source says in the email that Military Intelligence wanted to show the president they are more powerful than National Security.

According to La Repubblica, some details concerning the beating and torture of Regeni were only known by Italian investigators and never made public. These allegedly include hitting the bottoms of his feet and the use of a “bayonet,” described as a rifle with a knife attached to it.

The Egyptian prosecution announced Tuesday in a statement that a delegation investigating Regeni’s case would arrive in Rome on Wednesday, after the trip was postponed the day before for unannounced reasons. The delegation is headed by deputy prosecutor Mostafa Suleiman, the statement added. 

The delegation is due in Rome one day after statements by the Italian Foreign Minister asserting that Italy would not stop until the “truth” behind Regeni’s death is discovered. Italy will not allow its dignity to trampled on by Egypt, the minister added, as reported by Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera. 

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry refrained from commenting on these statements which they said “complicate the situation.”

Italian authorities have been demanding to know who is responsible for Regeni’s death since his tortured body was discovered on the Cairo-Alexandria road in February, approximately two weeks after his disappearance. Regeni disappeared on the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution while he was allegedly on his way to visit a friend in Downtown Cairo, an area that was heavily occupied by security forces on that day.

The Interior Ministry claimed in March that a gang of five, who were killed by security forces, were responsible for Regeni’s death, claiming they found his passport in possession of the gang. The Italian government rejected this narrative, threatening immediate measures if Egyptian authorities did not cooperate further in revealing the “truth” of his death. 

Note: This story has been amended since it was first published.

 

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