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Italian petition seeks action on student murdered in Egypt

An online petition asking the Italian government to refrain from sending the new ambassador to Egypt has been launched

Francesca Astorri

Published: Updated:

An online petition asking the Italian government to refrain from sending the new ambassador to Egypt has been launched seven months after the killing in Cairo of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni.

“It’s important that the new Ambassador Cantini doesn’t go to Cairo. We don’t have to give a soothing image” said Regeni’s mother Paola Deffendi in an interview with RAI 3 TV show Presa Diretta.

“No sort of tension releasing measure should be put in place between the two countries, since nothing was done by the political and judiciary institutions of Egypt to make some progress in the search for the truth regarding the killing of our national” the petition claims. It has now reached more than 10 thousand signatures.

The online appeal, titled “Justice for Giulio Regeni,” was launched by Italian Senator Luigi Manconi with a letter signed by Regeni’s parents, their lawyer Alessandra Ballerini, Antonio Marchesi, president of Amnesty International Italy, and Patrizio Gonnella, President of Cild - Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti civili (the Italian coalition for civil rights and freedoms).

Italy repeatedly complained that Egyptian authorities have not cooperated to find those responsible for the 28-year-old student’s death. In April, it withdrew its ambassador to Egypt for consultations. Giampaolo Cantini was nominated as the new Italian ambassador to Egypt, but he has yet to settle into the position.

“We believe that the situation should remain the way it is now, and that recalling the Italian ambassador represents a first and basic measure that we should rather re-enforce” the petition said.

“The return of our ambassador to Egypt would be interpreted by the Egyptian authorities as a sign that Italy wants to re-establish normal diplomatic relations between the two countries. We believe this is inappropriate, especially now, just before the meeting between Italian and Egyptian investigators” the petition goes on to state.

Egyptian and Italian prosecutors investigating the killing of the Italian student in Cairo earlier this year are slated to meet for the third time in Rome on September 8 and 9, officials said Monday.

Italian Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone and Egyptian Attorney General Nabil Ahmed Sadek are set to attend the meeting being held following the request of the Rome prosecutor’s office, which is conducting the Italian side of the investigation.

Giulio Regeni, 28, was a PhD student at Girton College, Cambridge, living in Cairo and researching Egypt’s independent trade unions. He was found dumped in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo, near a desert highway between Cairo and Alexandria, on February 3, a week after his disappearance on the night of January 25. An autopsy revealed he had been tortured for days, his nails had been ripped out and he suffered from broken ribs and a brain hemorrhage. The autopsy revealed also 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.

Authorities initially blamed his 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, Reuters reported.

In April, Cairo investigators suggested that Regeni was kidnapped and killed by a criminal gang specialized in abducting foreigners, while posing as policemen. This scenario was rejected by Italian authorities, who are still investigating.