Tension rises over Regeni murder as MPs and family speak out

“On his face I saw the ills of the world”: Regeni family threatens to release pictures of his corpse if the Egyptian government fails to carry out a satisfactory investigation.

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Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Girton postgrad, disappeared in Cairo on the 25th of January. His body, barely recognisable, was found 9 days later. 

Regeni was abducted whilst traveling through the city to meet a friend, tortured for a period of up to 7 days, killed, and dumped in a ditch beside a desert road.

According to the Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano, during his captivity Regeni suffered “something inhuman, something animal.”

At the first press conference since his death, Regeni’s mother Paola claimed that an Italian had not “faced such torture since the anti-fascist era,” and stated she was only able to recognise him “by the tip of his nose”.


Regeni’s Cam Card found in the house of his ‘abductors’

Since the discovery of his body, the Egyptian interior ministry has blamed a local gang (that specialised in the abduction of foreigners while posing as policemen) for the systematic torture of the Cambridge postgraduate.

The gang, composed of four men, was subsequently  killed during a police raid. Several items belonging to Regeni, including a passport and a CamCard, were found in an apartment apparently connected to the gang.

This verdict, however, has been met with serious international criticism and has led to repeated demands for the Egyptian government to step up their investigation.

Most recently, in their first public remarks about the death, Regeni’s family have claimed that the verdict passed by Egyptian officials is an “outrageous set-up.” 

Italian authorities have complained about the lack of transparency during the official investigation

Human rights groups and newspapers including The Economist have speculated that the Egyptian security forces are to blame for Regeni’s violent death.

The lawyer representing Regeni’s family has suggested that crucial pieces of evidence have not been collected, or have gone missing, including phone records, and CCTV footage from the area in which he was abducted.

Egyptian officials have vehemently denied any involvement of Egyptian security forces in Regeni’s murder.

Egyptian officials are due to arrive in Italy on the 5th of April, and it is expected that the evidence collected by the Egyptian police will be handed over to Italian prosecutors and investigators.

Recently Cambridge’s current MP, Daniel Zeichner, expressed suspicion at the verdict reached by Egyptian officials and welcomed the news that the investigation is being continued.

Zeichner went on to state that he is “pleased (the Egyptian government) has been forced to reopen investigations.”

He also articulated his concern that the British government was not contributing more to the investigation, given Regeni’s close ties to the UK.

Dr. Anne Alexander, coordinator of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network, also expressed deep skepticism with the Egyptian verdict, claiming “the idea that a group of criminals would keep any of Giulio’s possessions for nearly two months after his body was discovered so that they could be conveniently discovered during a police raid is inherently unlikely.”

She went on to question why the ostensible culprits were killed, rather than being brought to trial.

Giulio’s mother expects a “strong response” from the Italian government if April the 5th turns out to be a “wash-out,” and has threatened to release pictures of his body if the investigation continues to yield unsatisfying answers.

“He did not go to war. He was not a journalist. He was not a spy. […] He went for research, and he died under torture.”