Five Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016) [UPDATE : Italian inquiry heads to Cambridge]

“On 7 January 2016, just a month after the union meeting, Mohamed Abdallah denounced Regeni to the authorities (…) because his questions were not about street vendors … and had other intentions. The Egyptian government placed Regeni under investigation, but decided after a few days that his research was of no interest to National Security.”

The Guardian (October 4 2016)

giulio-regeni
Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old doctoral researcher at Britain’s Cambridge University, disappeared in Cairo in January 2016 and his body was later discovered in February by the Cairo-Alexandria highway. His body showed extensive marks of torture and the Egyptian security services have been suspected in the killing due to Regeni’s research into trade union organising.

January 25 2019 — Giulio Regeni (15 January 1988 – 1st or 2nd February 2016) was a PhD student at Girton College, Cambridge, researching Egypt’s independent trade unions. On January 25 2016, Regeni was abducted. Regeni’s mutilated corpse was found in a ditch alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway on the outskirts of Cairo on February 3, 2016. Why was he tortured and murdered? Why a botched investigation? Was he a spy? For whom? Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

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“We are here because we believe their help is needed. We have been in contact with the representatives of the [Cambridge] university for a few months, and they have shown us their willingness to collaborate. We need them to help us find answers to some of unanswered questions.”

Erasmo Palazzotto — President of the parliamentary inquiry commission

UPDATE (September 27 2021) — According to a piece published by the Guardian on June 14 2021, Giulio Regeni’s last messages on Facebook before his death in Egypt counter claims that he may have been a spy.

In my last update, I told you that I find this piece by The Guardian highly suspicious. After all, one person can be a serious scholar and a spy at the same time.

This week, members of the Italian parliamentary inquiry commission will hold talks with some representatives of Cambridge university.

They plan to meet Cambridge professors with expertise on the Middle East with whom Regeni had collaborated.

The delegation also requested to speak with Dr Maha Abdelrahman, who was Regeni’s supervisor.

In February 2020, the chief prosecutor of Rome, Michele Prestipino, had said it was a “mystery” that she had not collaborated with the investigation after the first formal contact.

“Her reluctance to collaborate with the Italian prosecutors was a problem for the investigation,” the President of the parliamentary inquiry commission Erasmo Palazzotto said.

“I hope she agrees to speak with us. I hope she helps us understand what happened, explains why she decided not to collaborate with the Italian authorities.”

Many people wonder why Dr Maha Abdelrahman commissioned Regeni to research a topic she knew was dangerous. It is also unclear why Regeni accepted to research this topic.

On October 3 2021, the work of the parliamentary commission will close. The content of the hearings with the Cambridge representatives will be released publicly in two weeks’ time.

Last year, four senior members of Egypt’s powerful security services were charged by a Rome judge over their role in the disappearance, torture and murder of Regeni.

President Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi has almost certainly approved this operation. Yet, European and British governments continue to have a friendly relation with el-Sisi.

In December 2020, French president Emmanuel Macron presented Sisi with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, the French state’s highest honour.

The award ceremony had been kept secret. The ceremony did not feature on the official agenda given to French reporters. French media were also barred from filming other stages of his visit to Paris. Images of the ceremony only emerged after they were published by the Egyptian presidency. It was the Egyptian delegation that filmed the event. French broadcaster TMC later aired footage found on the website of the Egyptian presidency.

“He was interested in how this group of street vendors, who you might suspect are quite weak, organises itself in an efficient way and manages to have some political leverage. Regeni was an academic, not a political agitator.”

Johannes Svensson (Friend of Regeni)

UPDATE (June 15 2021) — The Guardian: “Last messages counter spy claims.” Really?

According to a piece published by the Guardian on June 14 2021, Giulio Regeni’s last messages on Facebook before his death in Egypt counter claims that he may have been a spy.

The Facebook messages written by the Cambridge student Giulio Regeni in the weeks leading up to his murder give the lie to any notion he was a spy or political agitator.

“Egypt is in a difficult state right now,” he wrote before leaving for Cairo, in messages shared with the Guardian by his friend. “The dictatorship is back and until recently it wasn’t clear how brutal it was going to become. It seems that it’s ‘stabilising’ now … this state of affairs is very precarious.”

“This doesn’t feel like it’s going to be another 30 years,” he added, in reference to the length of rule of the previous army leader, Hosni Mubarak.

In one of his last Facebook messages, Regeni asked for help with his English in a paper he had written. Five days later he was snatched off the street on his way to an evening out.

Despite the flashy title, this piece brings nothing that would prove that Regeni was not a spy.

Let me remind you that a person can be a serious scholar and a spy at the same time. The case of Donald Newton Wilber is a textbook example.

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Wilber studied the ancient and modern Middle East. He received his Ph.D. (1949) from Princeton University, where he was the first student to receive a doctorate in architectural history. His book — Iran, Past and Present — was published in nine editions.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Donald N. Wilber was a serious scholar and a true expert in Persian architecture.

But it is a fact that Wilber was also a spy and one of the leading planners of the 1953 operation TP-Ajax, a successful plot to overthrow the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq.

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You already know that this grumpy old man is suspicious of everything. That is true.

Nevertheless, let me say it anyway. I find this piece by The Guardian highly suspicious. It reads like something MI6 wanted to put in the public domain ahead of the trial. Time will tell!

END of UPDATE

“Many other witnesses are coming forward. Time is a great ally. We’ll keep asking everyone with information to come forward and speak. We will guarantee their security and will not disclose their identity, as we have done so far. Once again we ask you: help us, for Giulio and for all of us.”

Paola and Claudio Regeni [Giulio Regeni’s parents]

UPDATE (May 5 2021) — Rome prosecutors have asked a judge to put four senior members of Egypt’s security services [NSA] on trial.

Gen Tariq Saber, Col Aser Ibrahim, Capt Hesham Helmi, and Maj Magdi Abd al-Sharif are charged with the “aggravated kidnapping” of Regeni. Sharif is also charged with “conspiracy to commit aggravated murder”.

Now, a judge will decide whether to indict the suspects before full trial proceedings begin.

“It’s unprecedented for NSA officers to be prosecuted and have the case heard in a court of law,” said Hussein Baoumi, a researcher on Egypt with Amnesty International.

“Torture is so prevalent in Egypt, everyone knows the NSA is practising it as well as enforced disappearances and unlawful killings. But there has never been a case where an officer was prosecuted and went to trial. Yes this is in absentia, but it sends a strong message that you can’t escape justice forever.”

All four accused officers are still serving, and Saber was recently promoted. Last year, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms reported that at least 2,653 people had been forcibly “disappeared” by security forces, primarily the NSA, since 2015.

END of UPDATE

“The public display of evidence that Egyptian officials tortured a student to death is going to be hugely damaging to Egypt’s image.”

Timothy Kaldas — Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

UPDATE (January 25 2021) — Prosecutors in Italy have charged four members of Egypt’s national security agency over the kidnapping and murder of Giulio Regeni in Cairo.

Tariq Saber, Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim, Capt Uhsam Helmi and Maj Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif are accused of kidnapping, and Sharif is also accused of grievous bodily harm and murder.

Charges had been dropped against a fifth security official, Mahmoud Najem, who was previously named as a suspect in Regeni’s disappearance.

Egypt and Italy do not have an extradition treaty. These four men are thus expected to be tried in absentia. 

Of course, ff they ever travel outside of Egypt, they risk detention under Interpol’s red notice system.

END of UPDATE

Previously, Regeni had been an employee of the international consulting firm ‘Oxford Analytica’.

Regeni’s mutilated and half-naked corpse was found in a ditch alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway on the outskirts of Cairo on February 3, 2016.

“His recovered body showed signs of extreme torture: contusions and abrasions all over from a severe beating; extensive bruising from kicks, punches, and assault with a stick; more than two dozen bone fractures, among them seven broken ribs, all fingers and toes, as well as legs, arms, and shoulder blades; multiple stab wounds on the body including the soles of the feet, possibly from an ice pick or awl-like instrument; numerous cuts over the entire body made with a sharp instrument suspected to be a razor; extensive cigarette burns; a larger burn mark between the shoulder blades made with a hard and hot object; a brain hemorrhage; and a broken cervical vertebra, which ultimately caused death.”

Official Investigation or Cover-Up? Egyptian officials have been  floating various theories in the media: Regeni was gay and the victim of a crime of passion, he was involved in a drug deal gone bad, or else he was a foreign spy.

Forensic Sciences — It is almost certain that Regeni was tortured by ‘professionals’ over a period of many days.

Although he disappeared on January 25th, Regeni was still alive on February 1st and some of his earliest wounds had begun to heal. Some of the tortures he endured  are said to be regularly used by the Egyptian police.

“The forensic doctors at the University of Rome used a highly accurate technique for determining time of death, which measures potassium levels in the vitreous fluid of the eyes.

They established that Regeni died between 10pm on 1 February and 10pm on 2 February.

This is important because it means that he was alive for at least six or seven days and tortured repeatedly during that time.

Detailed analysis in Italy showed that he had been hit repeatedly on the head, but that these blows were not fatal. Blood had coagulated around the points where he had been hit, and other cuts, bruises and abrasions on his body showed different stages of healing.

This indicated that Regeni had been tortured more than once – and that days had passed between his initial torture, later sessions, and the moment of his death. He was covered with cuts and burns, and his hands and feet had been broken. Even his teeth were broken.”

His torturers appear to have carved letters into his flesh, a well-documented practice of the Egyptian police.”

This horrific story should not fade away. Whether or not Regeni was a spy — his friends and relatives do not believe he was — we do not know.

But his horrific death demands an explanation.

Stay tuned.

“What also has become clear is that Giulio had for months attracted the attention of Egypt’s state apparatus, which continued in an increasingly pressing way until 25 January.”

Rome prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone (January 25 2018)

UPDATE (January 26 2018) — According to Rome prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone, Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni was killed because of his research on Egypt’s independent trade unions.

In a letter to Italy’s main newspapers, summarising the joint Italian-Egyptian investigation so far, Mr Pignatone said the motive for the killing could be “attributed solely” to Regeni’s research.

Mr Pignatone also said there were “evident contradictions” between statements from Cambridge University sources and the details that emerged from Regeni’s correspondence.

Egyptian police initially suggested he had been killed in a road accident. Authorities then said a criminal gang was responsible for his kidnapping and murder and that all its members were killed in a shootout – claims that were branded “implausible”.

Egyptian officials have admitted that he was being monitored. The topic he was researching — Egypt’s independent trade unions– is politically sensitive in the country.

UPDATE (May 31 2018) — CAIRO – The cooperation between Egypt and Italy’s public prosecutors is still ongoing in the case of murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni, according to an official joint statement issued on Tuesday. Egypt handed Italy a final copy of the CCTV footage related to the case.

“Further meetings between delegates from both the Italian and Egyptian prosecutors are scheduled to take place soon to discuss the latest updates regarding the case and the findings of the recordings.

The statement issued by both the Italian and Egyptian prosecutors said that a phone call between Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek and his Italian counterpart, Giuseppe Pignatone, took place on Monday.

The call discussed the efforts exerted by both sides during the roughly one year of continued investigations.”

In the joint statement, both sides affirm their serious intentions to continue their hard work until reaching the truth.

UPDATE (December 3 2018) — After a meeting on November 28 2018 between Rome’s deputy public prosecutor and his Egyptian counterparts, Italy added several members of Egypt’s national security agency (NSA) to a list of preliminary suspects last week.

Italian investigators had previously expressed suspicions that Regeni was followed by agents from the NSA, who also deployed Ahmed Abdullah, the head of the street vendors’ union, to surveil and film Regeni while he researched trade unions in Egypt, a politically sensitive subject.

The Italian paper Corriere della Serra outlined last week how Italian intelligence researched Regeni’s movements in his final days.

In its statement released on Sunday night, the SIS cast doubt on the quality of the Italian investigation and whether it was possible to list the suspects under the Italian legal system.

Paz Zarate, a friend of Giulio Regeni, tweeted:

“Egypt not only continues to lie but also to show disrespect by not writing his name right. It’s easy to spell, so this must be a deliberate gesture to indicate where the investigation is going: nowhere.” [Guardian Dec 3 2018]

Egyptian law does not recognise what is called ‘the record of suspects’,” the state information service (SIS) said, citing an anonymous member of the judiciary.

The statement was titled “Julio [sic] Regini’s case: charges should be based on evidence and not suspicions.”

CNN Report

Is Egypt covering up the murder of an Italian student?

UPDATE (January 25 2019) — The death of this young man shocked and outraged Italians. Giulio Regeni was an Italian student who went missing in Cairo after speaking to trade union and opposition activists.

His mutilated body was later found on the side of the road. He appeared to have been horribly tortured. Why was he murdered? Why a botched investigation? Was he a spy? For whom?

Three years after his murder in Cairo, Egypt is stonewalling Italy’s efforts to investigate.

“In November, Italian prosecutors officially named five members of Egypt’s security services as subject to investigation in the case of Regeni, who went missing on 25 January 2016 aged 28. But two months on, Egypt has barely acknowledged the development.

“The Rome prosecution has done everything in our ability. The situation is one of stalemate,” chief prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone told an Italian parliamentary body that oversees the secret service last week.”

After two years of tense negotiations to obtain CCTV footage of the Cairo metro on the day Regeni disappeared, Italian prosecutors said what was provided contained “unexplained gaps”, rendering it useless. Egyptian officials blamed technical difficulties for the loss of the critical footage.

UPDATE (May 6 2019) — Egyptian police arrested and beat Regeni because they thought he was a British spy.

Italian Newspaper La Republica claims that a member of the Egyptian security services has admitted to beating Giulio Regeni over suspicion of spying.

La Repubblica  quotes a witness who overheard an Egyptian intelligence agent speaking about “the Italian guy”.

The conversation about the tumultuous situation in Egypt in Arabic took place at a police convention in an unnamed African country in 2017 and was related to Italian prosecutors who have now asked Egyptian authorities for more information.

The unnamed eavesdropper learned the Egyptian’s name when he exchanged business cards with a colleague.

The man is one of five agents Italian prosecutors said in December last year they were investigating for involvement in the murder of Regeni.

“We thought he was an English spy, we picked him up, I went and after putting him in the car we had to beat him. I myself hit him several times in the face,” the intelligence agent said, according to the Correre della Sera newspaper.

Italian prosecutors believe the new testimony is credible and have sent it along with other details to Egyptian prosecutors, requesting in particular the agent’s whereabouts at the time of the overheard conversation in the summer of 2017.

On Sunday (May 5 2019), Italy’s foreign ministry tweeted that it “supports the Rome prosecutor’s request for information, in the strong hope that it contributes to the path of justice for Giulio Regeni”.

Italy recalled its ambassador to Egypt in April 2016, but sent a replacement to Cairo the following year.

“Egypt not only continues to lie but also to show disrespect by not writing his name right. It’s easy to spell, so this must be a deliberate gesture to indicate where the investigation is going: nowhere.”

Paz Zarate — Friend of Giulio Regeni (Twitter)

UPDATE (January 25 2020) — Italian prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco and Michele Prestipino have been investigating Regeni’s death in “coordination” with Egyptian officials for the last four years later. To this day, no-one has been charged.

The Egyptian authorities have never properly investigated Regeni’s murder and there are widespread concerns that the authorities themselves were responsible for his killing. Plain-clothed police arrested Regeni on 25 January and an Italian post-mortem examination found he was tortured before his death. [Amnesty International UK]

Amnesty International will mark the fourth anniversary of the unsolved murder of the Cambridge University student Giulio Regeni with vigils in Cambridge and outside the Egyptian Embassy in London.

Cambridge: Saturday 25 January, 6-7pm: Great St Mary’s Church, King’s Parade, Cambridge CB2 3PQ

Amnesty’s Cambridge City and Cambridge University groups, members of the University and College Union and other supporters, will conduct the vigil.

Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge – as well Regeni’s friends and colleagues – will address the gathering. A minute’s silence will be held at 6.41pm, when the last communication was received from Regeni before his abduction in 2016.

END of UPDATE

REFERENCES

Who murdered Giulio Regeni? — The Guardian

Murder of Giulio Regeni — Wikipedia

Giulio Regeni murdered in Egypt ‘over research’ – Italian prosecutor — BBC News (January 26 2018)

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Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? [UPDATE]

Egypt — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why?

Egypt — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? [UPDATE]

Three Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016)

Three Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016) [UPDATE]

Four Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016)

Four Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016) — UPDATE : Italy charges 4 Egyptian security agency officials over Regeni’s murder

Five Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016) [UPDATE : Italy charges 4 Egyptian security agency officials]

Five Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016) [UPDATE : At long last, case reaches courtroom]

Five Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016) [UPDATE : The Guardian: “Last messages counter spy claims.” Really?]

Five Years Ago — Who Tortured Giulio Regeni to Death? And Why? (January 25 2016) [UPDATE : Italian inquiry heads to Cambridge]

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