Italian prosecutor in Egypt to discuss probe into student's killing

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 01, 2016 8:13 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Italy's deputy chief prosecutor arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss developments in the investigation into the killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni, sources at Cairo airport said.

Regeni, who was doing postgraduate research into Egyptian trade unions, was last seen by his friends on Jan. 25. His body, showing signs of torture, was found in a roadside ditch on the outskirts of Cairo on Feb. 3.

Deputy chief prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco will meet Egyptian Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek and other senior judicial and security officials, according to the sources, who participated in welcoming the Italian delegation at the airport.

Italy has repeatedly complained that Egyptian authorities have not cooperated to find those responsible for the 28-year-old student's murder. In April, it withdrew its ambassador to Egypt for consultations.

The Italian Senate voted in June to halt supplies to Egypt of spare parts for F16 warplanes in protest against what some senators said was the slow pace of investigation.

Italy was Egypt's fourth-largest trade partner in terms of imports and exports in 2015, according to Egypt's statistics agency CAPMAS. The Senate vote was Italy's first commercial step against Cairo over the Regeni case.

Human rights groups have said that torture marks, including cigarette burns, cuts and contusions, indicated Regeni died at the hands of the security forces, an allegation Cairo denies.

But security and intelligence sources told Reuters in April that Regeni had been arrested outside a Cairo metro station on Jan. 25 and was taken to a Homeland Security compound.

Regeni's case is an "open wound" for Italy, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said last week.

Sadek told his Italian counterpart in September that the head of Egypt's independent union of street vendors reported Regeni to police a few weeks before he disappeared.

Regeni had been researching independent labor unions in Egypt for his doctorate studies at Cambridge University, and had been in contact with the leaders of the street vendors' union.

Police then carried out checks on Regeni's activity for three days but found nothing of interest and stopped the checks, Sadek said.

Italy has significant economic interests in Egypt, including the giant offshore Zohr gas field, which is being developed by the Italian state energy producer Eni.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has also sought to be Egypt's main political partner in Europe, offering to be "a bridge" to the region for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

(Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; editing by Mark Heinrich)