Italy to return ambassador to Egypt, ending diplomatic pressure over Regeni’s death

More than a year after Italy recalled its former ambassador to Egypt amid tension over the investigation into the murder of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni, Italian Ambassador Giampaolo Cantini will “soon” take up his position in Egypt, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in an official statement Monday.

Alfano asserted that the decision was made in light of developments in cooperation between the Egyptian and Italian authorities investigating the student’s January 2016 death.

“Sending an authoritative liaison (ambassador) will help, through contacts with the Egyptian authorities, reinforce judicial cooperation and as a consequence the search for the truth,” Alfano said.

Egyptian and Italian prosecutors announced in a joint-statement issued earlier on Monday that Egypt sent Italian authorities the transcript of the interrogation of seven police officers who investigated Regeni after receiving a complaint from a representative of the street vendors syndicate. The statement also asserted that the Egypt’s Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek and Rome chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone will meet later this year once they recover the CCTV footage from the metro station where Regeni lived.

Regeni’s family denounced the news of the imminent return of Italy’s diplomatic mission to Egypt, according to the Italian ANSA news agency. “Only when we will have the truth about why and who killed Giulio, when we are given, alive, his torturers and all their accomplices, only then can the ambassador return to Cairo without trampling on our dignity,” the family said in a statement.

According to ANSA, Italian authorities are still waiting to receive information in the case, including the testimony of an Egyptian National Security Agency chief who interrogated Regeni days before his death, as well as the March 2016 testimony of an “agent” who searched the home of an alleged gang that the government accused of kidnapping and killing foreign nationals in Egypt.

Italy recalled former Ambassador to Egypt Maurizio Massari in April 2016 in a move to obtain evidence in the investigation. Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced the news that Massari would be recalled on Twitter, using the hashtag “#Truth for Regeni.”

Italian officials stated at the time that Egyptian authorities refused to share key materials on the case, including a number of phone records from the day Regeni disappeared. Former Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni stated ahead of Massari’s recall that Italy would take immediate and proportionate measures against Egypt if it didn’t change the way it was conducting the investigation.

Cantini was appointed as the non-resident ambassador to Cairo in May.

The slain researcher disappeared at a metro station on January 25, 2016 as he was traveling from his apartment in Dokki to meet a friend in downtown Cairo. His body was found a few days later on February 3, naked and bearing signs of torture beside a highway on the outskirts of Cairo. Egyptian investigators admitted a few months later that they put Regeni under surveillance after they received a complaint from a representative of the street vendors syndicate who denounced him as a spy.

See Mada Masr’s timeline charting the events throughout the year from the day Regeni disappeared in Cairo:

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