Memorial service held for Italian student killed in Egypt

AP News
Posted: Feb 05, 2016 2:16 PM
Memorial service held for Italian student killed in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — Friends, family and diplomats held a memorial ceremony Friday at a Cairo church for an Italian student whose body was found this week, nine days after he disappeared from the streets of the Egyptian capital.

The circumstances of the killing of 28-year-old Giulio Regeni remained murky. He disappeared on Jan. 25, the anniversary of Egypt's 2011 uprising, a day when security forces were on high alert and out on the streets in force to prevent any demonstrations by activists to commemorate the occasion.

He was found this week with multiple stab wounds, cigarette burns and other signs of torture on a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo, Egyptian officials said.

Regeni's parents, who came to Egypt to search for him, and his friends attended the memorial held Friday inside an Italian church, which was heavily guarded by security forces, with plainclothes intelligence officers and police patrolling the area. The priest presiding over the service emphasized that Regeni had been "seeking truth."

The Italian Foreign minister told reporters in Amsterdam that Regeni's body would arrive tomorrow in Italy. The Italian news agency ANSA said that the body will be transported for an autopsy ordered by Rome prosecutors who are investigating his death.

Egyptian authorities have already conducted an autopsy and prosecutors investigating the case said they are waiting for a full report.

Regeni had been in Egypt since September conducting research on workers and labor rights — a sensitive topic, since disgruntled workers were among the forces in the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising and authorities still worry about worker discontent.

He also wrote several articles under a pseudonym about labor issues in Egypt for the left-wing Italian newspaper Il Manifesto. After his death, the paper ran his last piece under his name, detailing difficulties facing independent labor unions, including the Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services.

The center's general coordinator Kamal Abbas told the AP that he met with Regeni twice — most recently in December — to talk about unions' role in advocating workers' rights.

"I remember him as a very decent and very shy bright man," Abbas said. "He was very interested in researching workers' role in the uprising."

"What happened is very worrying," he said.