Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Monday refuting “speculations” about the return of Egyptian ambassador in Rome to Cairo over a rift between Italy and Egypt concerning the torture and murder of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni in Egypt in 2016.
“The official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Hafez, completely denies these speculations, asserting that they are completely unfounded, and stressing that the Egyptian ambassador is still on duty in Rome,” the statement read.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry source told Mada Masr in a report published on Sunday that there are speculations that Badr might be sent back to Cairo by the beginning of next year, around the third anniversary of Regeni’s murder. The source added, however, that diplomatic efforts by Badr might hold Italian-Egyptian relations together, until the Egyptian authorities decide to offer more concrete concessions to Italy.
Three incidents that took place earlier this month marked a clear escalation by Italy in Regeni’s case: Regeni’s family lawyer, Alessandra Ballerini, announced a list of suspects identified by Italian investigators that included several Egyptian officers, the head of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies severed ties with Egypt’s Parliament, and the Egyptian ambassador to Rome was summoned by the Italian foreign minister.
Regeni, a PhD candidate who was researching 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, bearing marks of severe torture, on the side of a highway on the outskirts of the city.
Italy recalled former Ambassador to Egypt Maurizio Massari in April 2016 in response to Egypt’s lack of cooperation in the investigations into Regeni’s disappearance and death. However, diplomatic relations resumed in September 2017 — despite the fact that Egypt had not taken any real steps toward resolving the case — when Italy reinstated Ambassador Giampaolo Cantini to Cairo, a move that was denounced by Regeni’s family.