Italy, Egypt sit on table to discuss Italian student’s death

Police stand guard outside the main gate of a police station in Rome, where talks over the investigation into the death of Giulio Regeni are taking place. Photograph: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian and Italian officials have concluded their first day of talks in Rome aimed at ending the deadlock in the investigation into the murder of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge University researcher whose torture and death in Cairo have strained diplomatic relations.

Led by Cairo’s deputy prosecutor, Mostafa Soliman, the five-strong Egyptian team presented a 2,000-page dossier during several hours of talks at a police training building.

Regeni’s body was found by a Cairo roadside on 3 February, more than a week after disappearing on the fifth anniversary of the country’s uprising. While officials initially said he may have been killed in a traffic accident, autopsies carried out in Cairo and Rome showed Regeni had suffered extensive and prolonged torture before his death.

Egyptian authorities subsequently blamed a criminal gang but outside observers said Regeni’s murder bears the hallmarks of a state sponsored killing.

Bilateral collaboration on the investigation was this week deemed inadequate by Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, who warned “proportional measures” would be taken if Egypt failed to provide answers on the case.

Italy’s investigative team, directed by Rome prosecutor, Giuseppe Pignatone, has pushed for Regeni’s phone records and other evidence to be provided by the Egyptians.

There is also pressure on Cairo to name a suspect in the case, with a senior Egyptian policeman named in Italian media as the figure most likely to be held responsible, according to sources.

The policeman was also one of the officials named in an anonymous letter published by La Repubblica newspaper on Wednesday, which gave details of those allegedly involved in Regeni’s death.

Solidarity has been voiced from Egypt, with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Thursday publishing a letter to Regeni’s mother written by a woman whose son disappeared in 2013.

“I envy you for the interest of your government in your son’s cause … Mrs Regeni, I and hundreds of Egyptian mothers tell you that our hearts are with you.”

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