Murder of Giulio Regeni

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Giulio Regeni
Giulio Regeni profile.jpg
Born(1988-01-15)15 January 1988
Disappeared25 January 2016 (aged 28)
Cairo, Egypt
Cause of deathTorture murder
Body discovered3 February 2016
Cairo–Alexandria highway
Cairo, Egypt[2]
Alma materCambridge University
Regeni's passport

Giulio Regeni (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒuːljo reˈdʒɛːni]; 15 January 1988[1] – 25 January 2016) was an Italian University of Cambridge graduate who was abducted and tortured to death in Egypt.[3][4] Regeni was a PhD student at Girton College, Cambridge,[5] researching Egypt's independent trade unions,[6] and a former employee of the international consulting firm Oxford Analytica.[7] He grew up in Fiumicello, a former comune (now Fiumicello Villa Vicentina) in the province of Udine in northeastern Italy.[8]

Discovery of the body[edit]

Regeni's mutilated and half-naked corpse was found in a ditch alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway on the outskirts of Cairo on 3 February 2016. His recovered body showed signs of extreme torture: contusions and abrasions all over from a severe beating; extensive bruising from kicks, punches, and assault with a stick; more than two dozen bone fractures, among them seven broken ribs, all fingers and toes, as well as legs, arms, and shoulder blades; multiple stab wounds on the body including the soles of the feet, possibly from an ice pick or awl-like instrument; numerous cuts over the entire body made with a sharp instrument suspected to be a razor; extensive cigarette burns; a larger burn mark between the shoulder blades made with a hard and hot object; a brain hemorrhage; and a broken cervical vertebra, which ultimately caused death.[9][10]


Italian and Egyptian officials conducted separate autopsies on Regeni's corpse with an Egyptian forensic official reporting on 1 March 2016, that he was interrogated and tortured for up to seven days at intervals of 10–14 hours before he was finally killed.[11] The Egyptian autopsy findings have still not been made public. A 300-page report of the Italian autopsy findings has been handed over to the public prosecutor's office in Rome and denies earlier reports of signs of electric shocks administered to Regeni's genitals.[12]

On 24 March 2016, Egyptian police killed four men in a shoot out, who were allegedly responsible for kidnapping Regeni.[13] According to a Facebook post from the official page of the Ministry of the Interior,[14] the gang specialized in kidnapping foreigners and stealing their money. In a raid on the flat of one of the gang members, the Egyptian police claim they found various items that belonged to Regeni including his passport and student photo IDs. However, witnesses told Declan Walsh and other journalists that the "gang" members had been executed, not shot while riding in the van: "One was shot as he ran, his corpse later positioned inside the van". Their link to Regeni was also suspect: "Italian investigators used phone records to show that the supposed gang leader, Tarek Abdel Fattah, was 60 miles north of Cairo the day he supposedly kidnapped Regeni", according to Declan Walsh.[15] The New Cairo prosecutor's office later denied that the criminal gang was involved in his murder.[16]

Regeni's passport and the other documents were handed over to Italian prosecutors on 1 November, same year, during a "positive" meeting in Cairo.[17]

On 8 June 2016, Italian news agency ANSA reported that Regeni's tutors at Cambridge University had declined to collaborate with the inquest into his murder, to the disappointment of investigators and Regeni's family.[18] This had been anticipated by coverage in the Italian weekly L'Espresso on 7 June 2016, which reported that Regeni's tutor Maha Abdelrahman had followed advice from University lawyers not to collaborate with the inquest.[19] The University of Cambridge strongly rejected the claims in a statement released to Varsity, the Cambridge student newspaper.[20] Despite commitment on behalf of Cambridge University, as of early December 2017, British authorities had denied requests by the Italian prosecutors concerning the interrogation of specific individuals in Britain; on a similar note, Abdelrahman had refused to speak to the Italian prosecutor.[21] Such British inaction in the aftermath of the incident would be later described by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner as "lack of tenacity".[22] Following the controversy that played out in the media,[23] Abdelrahman eventually agreed to be questioned by Italian authorities and received praises from the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs for having chosen to cooperate.[24]

In November 2020, Italian magistrates concluded the investigation into Regeni's torture and murder, charging five Egyptian security officials as suspects in the case. The officials were set to face their trial in Italy. The investigation found that Regeni was tortured and murdered by the officials after his doctoral research led them to suspect him of being a spy.[25]

In October 2021, the trial of the four Egyptian police officers opened in Rome in their absence. They are accused of being behind the murder of Giulio Regeni.[26]

Accusations against Egyptian officials[edit]

Due to Regeni's research activities and left-wing political leanings, the Egyptian police is strongly suspected of involvement in his murder in Egypt,[27] although Egypt's media and government deny this, alleging secret undercover agents belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt carried out the crime in order to embarrass the Egyptian government and destabilize relations between Italy and Egypt.[28][29]

On 21 April 2016, Reuters reported three Egyptian intelligence officials and three police sources independently claiming Regeni was in police custody at some time before his death. According to these sources he was picked up by plainclothes police officers near Gamal Abdel Nasser metro station together with another Egyptian man on the evening of 25 January. Both men were then taken in a white minibus with police license plates to Izbakiya police station in downtown Cairo.[30]

Shadowing foreigners was later dismissed by a Homeland Security official and the Interior Ministry as day-to-day work bearing no implications,[30] and Egyptian general prosecutor Nabeel Sadek confirmed that Cairo police had received a report on Regeni on 7 January 2016,[31] and that the Egyptian National Security Agency had been monitoring Regeni.[15]

L'Espresso linked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's son Mahmoud to Regeni's murder, stating that "It is hard to think that el-Sisi's son was not aware of Regeni's movements before he disappeared."[32]

On 7 December 2016, a joint statement of Egyptian and Italian prosecutors, released following a two-day summit in Rome, stated that Egyptian prosecutors had questioned the policemen who investigated Regeni's death in January, as well as those who killed the four gang members in March.[33]

On 15 August 2017, journalist Declan Walsh published in The New York Times the statement of an anonymous Obama administration official who revealed that, in the weeks after Regeni's death, the United States acquired "explosive proof that Egyptian security officials had abducted, tortured and killed Regeni" and that "Egypt's leadership was fully aware of the [death] circumstances".[15]

Walsh writes that Italian investigators working in Egypt "were hindered at every turn. Witnesses appeared to have been coached. Surveillance footage from the subway station near Regeni’s apartment had been deleted; requests for metadata from millions of phone calls were refused on the grounds that it would compromise the constitutional rights of Egyptian citizens."[15]

After the article, the Italian government denied that the Americans provided any actionable proof;[34] AISE told the hint from the USA was of little benefit, since it came when the autopsy and investigation had already persuaded Italian investigators of Egypt's involvement, and Americans refused to reveal anything more specific, like names of involved people or institutions.[35]

On 21 December 2017, the Italian investigators led by Giuseppe Pignatone flew to Cairo to meet the Egyptian prosecutor Nabel Sadek and his team. The Egyptian team submitted new reports, including the progress on the recovery of surveillance cameras footage. The Italians had carefully examined and cross linked all the evidence available to them until then, and provided a detailed explanation for the facts.

For the kidnapping, they reiterated and pinpointed the allegations against major Majdi Ibrahim Abdel-Al Sharif, captain Osan Helmy, and three other people of Egyptian National Security Agency. For the red herring, which included the killings on 24 March 2016, they blamed captain Mahmud Hendy and other people of the local police.[36][37][38][39][40]

A witness spoke in May 2019 and said that he was in a cafe in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, in August 2017, where he heard Egyptian officials discussing the "Italian guy" case. After spying on an exchange of business cards, he heard that the officer who claimed to have been personally involved in Regeni's kidnapping and death was, in fact, Major Majdi Ibrahim Abdel-Al Sharif, 35 years old. According to the eyewitness account, they believed Regeni was a British spy and that the officer said he had to hit and slap Regeni after loading him into the police van. The Italian investigators listened to the witness and credited his reconstruction of the events with some reliability. In fact, the Major was already among the suspects.[41][42][43][44][45]

In December 2020, four agents of the Egyptian National Security Agency (NSA)— Major Madgi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif, Major General Tariq Sabir, Colonel Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim and Colonel Uhsam Helmi — were charged by Italian prosecutors with the “aggravated kidnapping” of Regeni. Besides, Major Sharif was also charged with “conspiracy to commit aggravated murder”.[46] In May 2021, an Italian judge, Pier Luigi Balestrieri ordered a trial, which was the ultimate resort for the Italian authorities, to begin in October 2021. It was ruled that they will be tried by the prosecutors in Italy on charges of torturing, kidnapping and murdering Regeni.[47]

However, on 14 October 2021 the Third Court of Assizes of Rome invalidated the trial, stating that the three NSA agents had not been notified about their charges and that, therefore, the trial could not begin. The case, therefore, returned to the Judge of the Preliminary Hearing.[48]

Reactions of the international community[edit]

Banner reading "Verità per Giulio Regeni" ("Truth for Giulio Regeni") on the city hall in Turin, Italy

Regeni's torture and murder sparked global outrage,[49] with more than 4,600 academics signing a petition calling for an investigation into his death and into the many disappearances that take place in Egypt each month,[50] while on 24 February 2016, Amnesty International Italy launched a campaign called Verità per Giulio Regeni ("Truth for Giulio Regeni").[51] UK Parliament petition No. 120832 was created by Hannah Waddilove, a former colleague of Giulio Regeni's at Oxford Analytica, in February 2016.[52] UK involvement was solicited on the rationale that freedom of thought, expression, and press are not meaningful if they cannot be backed by freedom of research. Hence active steps were expected from the UK in order to protect operations carried out by personnel belonging to its universities.[53] The petition reached 10,000 signatures next April, the Parliament renewed their offer of assistance. An online petition was also started on that received more than 100,000 signatures.[54]

On 10 March 2016, the European Parliament in Strasbourg passed a motion for a resolution condemning Regeni's torture and killing and the ongoing human rights abuses of the al-Sisi government in Egypt. The resolution was passed with an overwhelming majority.[55]

In April 2016, Italy recalled its ambassador to Egypt due to a lack of co-operation, during the investigation, from the Egyptian authorities.[56] On 14 April, The New York Times, in an editorial, attacked France harshly, calling the silence in the face of Italy's requests to put pressure on Egypt "shameful".[57]

In May 2016, Italian weekly magazine L'Espresso set up a secure platform based on GlobaLeaks technology to collect testimonials about torture and human rights abuse from Egyptian whistleblowers – and to seek justice for Regeni and for other murder victims in Egypt.[58]

On 25 January 2017, the first anniversary of his disappearance, thousands of people gathered to remember Regeni in Rome, Milan, Fiumicello, and other Italian towns.[59][60][61][62]

On 1 May 2017, Pope Francis said that the Vatican was taking steps to investigate the situation: "The Holy See has taken some steps. I will not say how or where, but we have taken some steps".[63]

From 2016, al-Sisi had promised Regeni's parents his personal involvement to establish the truth on the murder of their son,[64] but three years later, Paola and Claudio Regeni published a hard reply. "We cannot be satisfied by your condolences anymore, nor by your failed promises", they said.[65]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Regeni, i documenti fatti ritrovare dalla polizia egiziana". (in Italian). 24 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Body of Italian student found in Egypt". 4 February 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Italian student found dead in Cairo 'killed by violent blow to the head'". The Guardian. 7 February 2016.
  4. ^ Malsin/Cairo, Jared. "Hundreds of Egyptians Have Been Disappeared By the State". Time. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Cambridge University student Giulio Regeni 'was tortured and suffered burns' in Egypt, claim reports". Cambridge News.
  6. ^ "Italy Summons Egyptian Ambassador Over Death of Student in Cairo". The Wall Street Journal. 4 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Biography of Giulio Regeni, Cambridge University". 31 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Il Friuli - Fiumicello piange Giulio Regeni" (in Italian). Il Friuli.
  9. ^ Ahmed Ragab; Mustafa al-Marsafawi (7 March 2016). "Giulio Regeni: Scattered Facts". Jadaliyya. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  10. ^ Greg Botelho; Sarah Sirgany (4 February 2016). "Italian student who went missing in Cairo found battered and dead". CNN. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Italian killed in Egypt was interrogated for days - forensics expert". Reuters. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Nuove torture e vecchie bugie. In un dossier il martirio di Giulio". La Stampa (in Italian). 30 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Egyptian police claim to shoot dead gang that killed Giulio Regeni". The Guardian. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  14. ^ "الصفحة الرسمية لوزارة الداخلية". Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d Declan Walsh (15 August 2017). "Why Was an Italian Graduate Student Tortured and Murdered in Egypt?". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Egypt Prosecutor Says Killed 'Gang Members' and Giulio Regeni 'Not Connected'". Egyptian Streets. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Egypt hands over Regeni documents (2)". ANSA. Rome. 2 November 2016.
  18. ^ "Regeni family disappointed by Cambridge teachers". ANSA. 8 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Caso Regeni, anche la facoltà di Cambridge sceglie di non collaborare alle indagini". L'Espresso. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Exclusive: Cambridge University 'fully committed' to assisting Giulio Regeni investigation". Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  21. ^ "The Regeni case, La Repubblica responds to Cambridge: Our commitment to find the truth". la Repubblica. 4 December 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  22. ^ "Vigil held for Giulio Regeni marks four years since his disappearance". Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  23. ^ "Italian newspaper stands by criticism of Giulio Regeni's supervisor". Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Giulio Regeni murder: Cambridge tutor agrees to speak to Italian investigators". The Guardian. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  25. ^ Rome, Tom Kington. "Egyptian security officials to face trial over torture and murder of Cambridge student Giulio Regeni". The Times. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  26. ^ "Meurtre de Giulio Regeni: le procès de quatre policiers égyptiens s'ouvre à Rome". RFI. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  27. ^ "Suspicion falls on Egypt's security forces after the violent death of a young Italian". The Economist. 17 February 2016. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Egypt: Italian's killers may have had criminal or revenge motive". BBC News. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  29. ^ "Egypt: Egypt president suggests his political enemies murdered Italian student". The Guardian. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  30. ^ a b Simon Robinson; Sara Ledwith, eds. (21 April 2016). "Exclusive: Egyptian police detained Italian student before his murder - sources". Reuters. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  31. ^ Steve Scherer (9 September 2016). "Egyptian union head reported Italian student to police before murder". Reuters. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  32. ^ "Sisi son 'may have had role in Regeni case' - Espresso". Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
  33. ^ "Egypt police questioned as part of Regeni probe". TheNewArab. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  34. ^ "No 'explosive' evidence on Regeni (3)". ANSA. 16 August 2017.
  35. ^ Carlo Bonini, Giuliano Foschini (18 August 2017). "Regeni e la pista degli 007. "Gli Usa ci informarono ma noi sapevamo già"". la Repubblica.
  36. ^ Yan (22 December 2017). "Egypt's prosecution provides Rome with investigation reports on Italian national's murder". 新華社. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017.
  37. ^ "Egypt submits new evidence in Giulio Regeni murder investigation". The Local. 22 December 2017.
  38. ^ Giovanni Bianconi (22 December 2017). "Giulio Regeni, la nuova verità degli inquirenti: fu pedinato fino alla sua scomparsa, 10 egiziani coinvolti" [Giulio Regeni: new prosecutors' statement: he was being tailed until disappearance, 10 Egyptians involved] (in Italian). Corriere della Sera.
  39. ^ Floriana Bulfon (21 December 2017). "Caso Regeni, la procura di Roma consegna agli egiziani i nomi dei responsabili del sequestro" [Regeni case, Roman prosecutor hands the guilty parties' names to the Egyptians] (in Italian). L'espresso.
  40. ^ "An Italian Student Was Murdered in Egypt. Italy Says It Has Solved the Mystery". Wall Street Journal. 14 December 2020.
  41. ^ "صحيفة إيطالية: في كينيا .. مفتاح جريمة مقتل باحث إيطالي على يد السلطات المصرية » وكالة شهادة الإخبارية". 17 December 2019.
  42. ^ "Rep". 4 May 2019.
  43. ^ Tom Kington (6 May 2019). "Giulio Regeni: Italian student killed in Egypt 'was tortured as spy'". The Times.
  44. ^ Carlo Bonini; Giuliano Foschini (4 May 2019). "Regeni, il nuovo supertestimone: "Un ufficiale mi confessò il sequestro"" [Regeni, new starwitness: “An officer confessed the kidnapping”] (in Italian). La Repubblica.
  45. ^ "التايمز: ريجيني تعرض للخيانة من أصدقائه في القاهرة".
  46. ^ Pianigiani, Gaia; Yee, Vivian (10 December 2020). "Italy Charges Egyptian Security Agents in Student's Killing". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  47. ^ Pianigiani, Gaia (25 May 2021). "Italy to Try Four Egyptian Agents in Killing of Italian Student". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  48. ^ "Caso Regeni, Corte d'Assise di Roma annulla processo agli 007 egiziani: atti tornano al Gup". (in Italian). 14 October 2021. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  49. ^ "Outrage Over an Italian Student's Murder in Egypt". The New York Times. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  50. ^ "Thousands of academics demand inquiry into Cairo death of Giulio Regeni". The Guardian. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  51. ^ "Verità per Giulio Regeni". Amnesty International (in Italian). 24 February 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  52. ^ See the U.K. Parliamentary petitions website
  53. ^ House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee. "Fourth Report of Session 2015–16" (PDF). The FCO’s administration and funding of its human rights work overseas.
  54. ^ Giovanni Parmeggiani (8 February 2016). "Verità sull'uccisione di Giulio Regeni #JusticeForGiulio".
  55. ^ "European parliament condemns killing of Giulio Regeni in Egypt". The Guardian. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  56. ^ "When Egypt investigates tragedy, don't expect results". The Economist. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  57. ^ The Editorial Board (14 April 2016). "Opinion | Upping the Pressure on Egypt (Published 2016)". The New York Times.
  58. ^ Marco Pratellesi (16 May 2016). "RegeniLeaks, exposing the lies of al Sisi's regime". L'Espresso. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  59. ^ ""365 giorni senza Giulio", alla Sapienza il flash mob per Regeni" ["365 days without Giulio" flash mob at Rome University]. RomaToday (in Italian). Rome. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  60. ^ "Giulio Regeni, il sindaco Sala su Twitter: "Milano non dimentica, vicina alla famiglia"" [Giulio Regeni, mayor Sala on Twitter: "Milano will not forget, close to his family"]. il Giorno (in Italian). Milano. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  61. ^ "Un anno senza Giulio Regeni, la fiaccolata a Fiumicello per ricordare il ricercatore" [A year without Giulio, torchlight procession to remember the researcher]. Messaggero Veneto (in Italian). Udine. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  62. ^ Amnesty International (26 January 2017). "Migliaia di persone in 24 città italiane ricordano Giulio Regeni" [Thousands of people in 24 Italian towns remember Giulio Regeni]. pressenza (in Italian). Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  63. ^ Holy See Press Office, Press Conference with Pope Francis during the return flight from his trip to Egypt, 01.05.2017, accessed 27 May 2017
  64. ^ Giuliano Foschini (3 November 2016). "Caso Regeni, Al Sisi: "Voglio incontrare i genitori di Giulio. Presto la verità"" [Regeni case, Al Sisi: "I want to meet Giulio's parents. The truth soon."] (in Italian). La Repubblica.
  65. ^ Paola Regeni; Claudio Regeni (10 May 2019). "Presidente Al Sisi ricordi la promessa: consegni i colpevoli della fine di Giulio" [President Al Sisi remind your promise: hand over the felons of Giulio's end] (in Italian, English, and Arabic). La Repubblica.


  • Antonella Beccaria; Gigi Marcucci (2016). Morire al Cairo. I misteri dell'uccisione di Giulio Regeni. Castelvecchi. ISBN 9788869446528.
  • Lorenzo Declich (2016). Giulio Regeni, le verità ignorate. La dittatura di al-Sisi e i rapporti tra Italia ed Egitto. Edizioni Alegre. ISBN 9788898841455.


External links[edit]