Amnesty Italy urges Egypt to release legal advisor to Regeni’s family

Last week, a court in Cairo extended the pre-trial detention of Ahmad Abdullah for 15 days

Francesca Astorri
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Amnesty International on Tuesday urged Egyptian authorities to immediately release Ahmad Abdullah, a human rights activist who had been providing legal assistance to the family of slain Italian Giulio Regeni.

“Amnesty International demands the immediate release of Ahmad Abdullah. Riccardo Noury, spokesperson for Amnesty International Italy, told Al Arabiya English.


“Any additional day in jail is concerning because he is risking a long term jail sentence, when according to Amnesty International he was not even supposed to be in jail.”

Last week, a court in Cairo extended the pre-trial detention of Abdullah for 15 days. As well as his connection to Regeni’s family, he is also head of the board of trustees of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.

Abdullah was arrested on April 25 and faces charges that include being affiliated to a banned group and attempting to overthrow the state.” While the charges do not relate specifically to the killing of Regeni, the Italian’s family and Amnesty International have immediately denounced his arrest.

A delegation of Italian investigators was in Cairo this week to meet their Egyptian counterparts in an attempt to seek progress in the investigation into PhD student Regeni’s brutal killing in January.

Riccardo Noury
Riccardo Noury

Phone records related to the case were provided by Egyptian investigators, as requested by the Italian authorities. Rome had accused Cairo of failing to provide vital evidence, with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni labeling Egyptian cooperation as “not satisfactory.”

The 28-year old Italian student was in Cairo conducting research into labor unions when he disappeared on January 25 and was found dead days later in a ditch in the outskirts of Cairo.

Authorities initially blamed Regeni’s death on a road accident. A second autopsy, done in Italy, determined that he suffered a fatal fracture of a cervical vertebra, either from a strong blow to the neck or from forced twisting of the neck.

In April, Cairo investigators suggested that Regeni was kidnapped and killed by a criminal gang specialized in abducting foreigners, while posing as policemen.

All five members of the group were killed during what Egyptian authorities described as a shootout after the so-called criminals allegedly fired at a police checkpoint.

Three of the slain alleged criminals appeared to be members of the same family. Police also said they have found Regeni’s passport in the house of a relative of the alleged criminals.

Speaking to CNN, family member Rasha Tarek – who lost her husband, father and brother in the shootout – denied her kin were behind the kidnapping and killing of Regeni.

Search for the truth

The search for the truth has turned Regeni’s murder into one of the most delicate diplomatic cases between Italy and Egypt. Italy has recalled its ambassador to Cairo, Maurizio Massari, in protest at the lack of progress in the investigation by Egyptian authorities. Amnesty International believes further actions should be implemented.

“Considering the current human rights situation in Egypt, we demand Italian authorities to stop training Egyptian security forces, and to suspend arms and surveillance software supply,” Noury said, adding that human rights violations in the Arab country are a matter of serious concern.

In 2015, over a thousand torture cases and nearly 500 cases of forced disappearances were registered in Egypt, according to local NGOs.

Amnesty International refuses to accept Egyptian claims that Regeni was linked to corrupt police.

According to the Egyptian website Vetogate, prosecutors in Cairo are investigating on a link between Regeni and a group of seven corrupt policemen, following lawyer Mustafa Olwani’s complaint.

“We are not satisfied with this further version that aims at tarnishing Giulio Regeni and at exonerating the Egyptian authorities” said Noury.

According to Olwani, Regeni introduced himself as a member of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs while meeting in Cairo with a group of policemen suspected of having extorted 76 million dinars to foreign companies. According to Vetogate, the lawyer believes that the same corrupt police is behind Regeni’s murder.

“We have seen slow developments in Regeni’s case with Egyptian authorities buying time and protecting local institutions. Amnesty International is not going to accept any version that has not been verified by Italian investigators and independent bodies. Amnesty International has no political goal, it is only asking for the truth about Regeni’s murder,” Noury said.

An Egyptian activist holds a poster calling for justice to be done in the case of the recently murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, April 15, 2016. (Reuters)
An Egyptian activist holds a poster calling for justice to be done in the case of the recently murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, April 15, 2016. (Reuters)

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