Italy’s Chamber of Deputies to cut ties with Egyptian Parliament over Regeni murder investigation

In a step that marks a critical escalation in the Giulio Regeni murder case, the head of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies has asserted that the parliamentary body will sever ties with Egypt’s Parliament over a lack of progress in the investigation of the torture and killing of the Italian PhD researcher in Egypt.

Roberto Fico, the president of the chamber, released statements to Italian media outlets and on his personal Twitter account on Thursday, attesting that the Italian parliamentary house will suspend diplomatic relations with Egypt’s Parliament until there is a “turning point” in the investigation and a trial commences.

Italian news agency ANSA reported earlier on Thursday that Italian authorities will identify and begin investigating seven Egyptian security officials accused of involvement in Regeni’s death.

Sources told the Italian media outlet that, following the 10th meeting between Italian and Egyptian investigators this week, Italian prosecutors will reveal the identities of and begin formally investigating “Egyptian police and secret service agents who were recently identified by Italian special police units.”

In April 2017, an Italian government official told Mada Masr that Italian investigators had narrowed down an initial list of 26 suspects to 10 Egyptian politicians and officials they believed to be responsible for Regeni’s death. The identities of these officials have yet to be released to the public.

A statement released by Egypt’s Public Prosecutor on Wednesday, however, made no reference to the naming or investigations of suspects, saying that Italian and Egyptian investigators “exchanged views in a positive atmosphere” during this week’s meeting, according to Al-Shorouk newspaper. The two parties “touched upon the results of the investigations thus far and presented their latest developments,” the report added.

Concluding that the joint investigations were going well, the statement also emphasized the effort being made by both sides to identify the perpetrators, and expressed “hope that final conclusions will be reached in the near future.”

Regeni, a PhD candidate who was undertaking research on independent trade unions in Egypt, disappeared from a metro station on January 25, 2016 — the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution — while on his way to meet a friend in downtown Cairo. His body was found several days later, naked and bearing marks of severe torture, on the side of a highway on the outskirts of the city.

Last June, a statement issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of the European Union called on Egypt to “shed light on any alleged case of enforced disappearances and on the circumstances of the death of Giulio Regeni and Eric Lang and bring about justice.”

Egyptian prosecutors handed over surveillance footage, as well as other material relevant to the case file, to Italian investigators in late May, shortly after ANSA reported that a Russian technical team working alongside Egyptian investigators had started retrieving footage from the metro surveillance cameras in operation on the day of Regeni’s disappearance.

In September 2016, Egyptian authorities admitted to having placed Regeni under police surveillance, but have repeatedly denied any involvement in his death.

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