Italy warns Egypt it expects truth about death of student

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2016 1:36 PM
Italy warns Egypt it expects truth about death of student

ROME (AP) — Italy warned Tuesday that it is prepared to take "immediate and proportional measures" against Egypt if it fails to come clean with all it knows about the torture and death of an Italian graduate student in Cairo.

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told the Senate that meetings this week in Rome between Italian and Egyptian prosecutors could be "decisive" to filling in gaps in the investigation of the death of Giulio Regeni.

The 28-year-old researcher was abducted on a Cairo street Jan. 25, when police were out in force as Egyptians marked the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Speculation mounted that Egypt's security forces were involved after Regeni's brutally tortured body was found nine days later.

Gentiloni repeated Italian criticism that Egyptian authorities hadn't provided full information to date, saying Italian prosecutors in particular wanted missing documentation concerning Regeni's cellphone use and closed-circuit video footage of the Cairo area from where he was believed snatched.

"If there isn't a change, the government is ready to react by adopting immediate and proportional measures," Gentiloni warned.

He didn't specify possible measures, but Regeni's parents have urged Italy to declare Egypt an "unsafe" country for Italian tourists.

In Cairo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Gentiloni's comments "complicate matters further," given that they were made one day before the Egyptian team of prosecutors and police arrives in Italy to share the results of the Egyptian investigation with Rome investigators.

Also in Cairo on Tuesday, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said his country deeply regretted Regini's death and intended to "transparently" continue its "full cooperation" with Italy to resolve the case and bring the culprits to justice.

El-Sissi and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have forged close ties since the Egyptian leader came to office in June 2014. Italy is Egypt's biggest EU trading partner and the two countries have been coordinating policies on Libya, Egypt's neighbor and Italy's former colony where the extremist Islamic State group has a local affiliate.

"Close Italian-Egyptian relations, which stretch across history, are able to wisely deal with and get through such isolated incidents without creating negative consequences ...," presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef quoted el-Sissi as telling a visiting delegation from NATO's parliamentary assembly.

An Egyptian security official said there was a conflict between the security and judicial agencies on who would lead the team and what to present to the Italians. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case, told The Associated Press that prosecutors were concerned that the security agencies had attempted to "keep information" and not present it to the Italian side.

Weeks after Regeni's body was found, Egyptian authorities linked the killing to a criminal gang, saying they found the Italian student's personal belongings in a suspect's home after a shootout that killed all the gang's members.

But Italian media immediately dismissed the claim and even Egypt's top state newspaper criticized the "naive stories" being offered about the death and urged Egyptian authorities to deal seriously with the case.

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AP reporters Hamza Hendawi, Maggie Michael and Sam Magdy contributed from Cairo.

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This story has been corrected to show el-Sissi said "wisely," not "widely" in quote about relations between Italy and Egypt.