Italy warns Egypt as row continues over dead student

Italian student Giulio Regeni vanished from the streets of Cairo and later showed up in a ditch, triggering a row between the two countries

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Italy said on Tuesday it would take “immediate and proportionate” measures against Egypt if the Cairo government did not fully cooperate in uncovering the truth over the murder of an Italian student.

Giulio Regeni vanished from the streets of Cairo on Jan 25. His body, showing signs of extensive torture, was discovered in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on Feb. 3.

“If there is not a change in tack (by the Egyptian authorities), the government is ready to react, adopting measures that are both immediate and proportionate,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told parliament.

The head of the Italian parliament’s human rights committee said last month that the government should recall Italy’s ambassador to Cairo and declare Egypt unsafe for visitors if the investigation went nowhere.

A delegation of Egyptian prosecutors and policemen is to fly to Rome on Wednesday to present their findings of the murder, the prosecution service said.

On March 25, Cairo announced police had killed four members of a criminal gang specializing in abducting foreigners, and that they had found Regeni’s passport in the apartment of a sister of one of the slain suspects.

Rome has cast doubt on Cairo’s explanation for Regeni’s murder, with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi saying Italy “will not stop until we have the truth” and that it would not be “satisfied with some convenient truth.”

Regeni’s murder has brought relations between the two countries to one of their lowest points, with Italian officials openly ridiculing different versions of Regeni’s death put forward by Egyptian investigators, including an initial suggestion that he had died in a traffic accident.

Human rights groups have said torture marks on Regeni’s body indicated he died at hands of Egyptian security forces, an allegation Cairo has repeatedly denied.

The case has raised fresh questions about accusations of police brutality in Egypt, a strategic ally of the West and an important trade partner for Rome.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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