New trial opens for Italian student murdered in Egypt’s Cairo

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Italy will again attempt Tuesday to secure justice for an Italian student kidnapped and murdered in Cairo, with the opening of a second trial of four Egyptian security officers accused of the brutal killing.

Giulio Regeni, 28, had been conducting research when he was abducted in January 2016. His body was found nine days later, dumped on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital, bearing extensive signs of torture.

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The murder severely strained ties between Italy and Egypt, while Italian MPs later accused Cairo of being “openly hostile” to attempts to try the suspects.

Italian judges threw out a 2021 trial the day it opened because prosecutors had not been able to officially inform the four suspects of the procedures against them.

But the Constitutional Court ruled in September that the case could go ahead even in their absence, and the new trial is set to open on Tuesday in Rome.

The four defendants were named in original court documents as General Tariq Sabir, Colonels Athar Kamel and Uhsam Helmi, and Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif.

They all face charges of kidnapping, while Sharif is charged also with inflicting the fatal injuries.

But as in 2021, they will not attend the trial.

“They are absolutely untraceable,” defense lawyer Tranquillino Sarno, appointed by the court to represent Kamel, told AFP last week.

Because of this, he added, even if they were convicted, they would “certainly not serve their sentences”.

Openly hostile

Investigators believe Regeni was abducted and killed after being mistaken for a foreign spy. As part of his doctoral work, Regeni had been researching Egyptian trade unions, a particularly sensitive political issue.

His mother later said his body had been so badly mutilated that she recognized her son only by the “tip of his nose”.

Five of his teeth had been broken, 15 of his bones had been fractured and letters had been inscribed into his flesh, according to the family’s lawyer.

An Italian parliamentary commission found in December 2021 – just weeks after the case was thrown out – that Egypt’s security agency was to blame for Regeni’s death.

It also accused Egypt’s judiciary of acting in an “obstructive and openly hostile manner” by failing to disclose the whereabouts of the defendants.

In December 2020, all four suspects as well as a fifth were cleared of responsibility for Regeni’s murder by Egypt’s public prosecutor, who said he would drop the case.

Read more:

Italy slams Egypt's decision to clear police in Italian student Regeni's murder

Egypt's prosecution wants accusations against police excluded from Regeni case

Italian prosecutors name 4 Egyptian security forces as suspects in Regeni murder

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