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Minister demands truth over Italian doctoral student's killing in Egypt

08 febbraio 2016 | 14.35
LETTURA: 3 minuti

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The government will not be satisfied with anything less than the truth over the brutal murder of an Italian PhD student researching trade unions in Egypt, foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Monday.

"We will not accept supposed truths, as we said upon receiving reports of two arrests initially connected to Giulio Regeni's death," Gentiloni told La Repubblica daily in an interview.

"We want those really responsible identified, and we want them punished according to the law," he said.

Independent Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm and other local media on Saturday cited anonymous police officials as denying a report by German news agency DPA on Friday that two people had been arrested over the death of Regeni.

The 28-year-old Cambridge University doctoral student's battered half-naked body was found in a ditch in Giza on 3 February. He vanished in Cairo on 25 January after leaving his apartment in an upper middle-class suburb to meet a friend in the downtown area.

Regeni had suffered “inhuman, animal-like” violence, Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano said following a second autopsy on the victim’s body, which arrived in Rome on Saturday.

He was tortured for several days before dying from a broken neck, according to the autopsy findings. Italy's ambassador in Cairo said he was devastated by the condition of Regeni’s body, which had more than two dozen broken bones, as well as bruises and burn marks.

Alfano said Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must uphold a pledge to ensure cooperation in the probe, after Sisi promised Italian premier Matteo Renzi last week that authorities would "unravel the mystery" and give "utmost attention" to the case.

Rome prosecutors have opened a murder investigation into Regeni's death and seven Italian investigators have flown to Cairo to take part in a joint probe of the killing which has appalled Italy and sent shock waves abroad.

Italian authorities strongly suspect Egyptian security forces interrogated Regeni to learn about the contacts he made as part of his research with independent trade unions and other activists, and tortured and killed him.

In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Egypt's foreign minister vehemently denied those allegations as "judgments, accusations and insinuations, unjustified and without proof."

Sameh Shoukry also was quoted in the interview as denying that Egyptian security forces have a tendency to use violent methods.

Separately, a spokesman for the Egyptian interior ministry dismissed allegations that security forces could have been responsible for Regeni's killing. Spokesman Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim called such claims "nonsense," the private Shrouq newspaper reported.

Some of the researcher's former colleagues are asking the British government to join Italy’s demand for an independent investigation of Regeni's murder amid fears there could be a cover-up given Egypt's economic and security ties with Rome.

Regeni's funeral is expected to be held later this week in his home town of Fiumicello in northeast Italy.

January 25 was the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime president Hosni Mubarak and security forces were heavily patrolling Cairo's virtually deserted streets and squares that day.

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