Murder of Giulio Regeni

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Giulio Regeni
Documenti di Giulio Regeni.jpg
Regeni's passport
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

Giulio Regeni (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒuːljo reˈdʒɛːni]; 15 January 1988[1] – 25 January 2016) was an Italian Cambridge University 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] as well as 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 February 3, 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 vertebrae, which ultimately caused death.[9][10]


Italian and Egyptian officials conducted separate autopsies on Regeni's corpse with an Egyptian forensic official reporting on March 1, 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 March 24, 2016, Egyptian police killed in a shoot out four men 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 November 1, same year, during a "positive" meeting in Cairo.[17]

On June 8, 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 June 7, 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 accepted to be questioned by Italian authorities and received praises from the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs for having chosen to cooperate.[24]

Accusations against the Egyptian government[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,[25] 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.[26][27]

On April 21, 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 January 25. Both men were then taken in a white minibus with police license plates to Izbakiya police station in downtown Cairo.[28]

Shadowing foreigners were later dismissed by a Homeland Security official and the Interior Ministry as day-to-day work bearing no implications,[28] and Egyptian general prosecutor Nabeel Sadek confirmed that Cairo police had received a report on Giulio Regeni on January 7, 2016,[29] and that the Egyptian National Security Agency had been monitoring Regeni.[15]

On December 7, 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.[30]

On August 15, 2017, journalist Declan Walsh collected in a New York Times article 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;[31] 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.[32]

On December 21, 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 kidnapping, they reiterated and pinpointed the allegations against major Magdi Ibrqaim Abdlaal Sharif, captain Osan Helmy, and three other people of Egyptian National Security Agency. For red herring, which included the killings on March 24, 2016, they blamed captain Mahmud Hendy and other people of the local police.[33][34][35][36]

A witness emerged in May 2019, telling he was in a café in an African capital city in 2017, where he heard Egyptian officers discussing the case of "the Italian guy". After eavesdropping an exchange of business cards, he recognized that the officer who claimed to have been personally involved in kidnapping and beating Giulio Regeni was in fact Major Magdy Ibrquaim Abdelaal Sharif. According to the account, they believed Regeni was a British spy. The Italian investigators heard the witness and accredited his reconstruction of the events with some reliability. In fact, the Major was already among the suspects.[37][38]

Reactions of the international community[edit]

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

The gruesome torture and murder of Giulio Regeni sparked global outrage,[39] 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,[40] while on February 24, 2016, Amnesty International Italy launched a campaign "Verità per Giulio Regeni" (Truth about Giulio Regeni).[41] UK Parliament petition No. 120832 was created by Hannah Waddilove, a former Giulio Regeni's colleague at Oxford Analytica, in February 2016.[42] 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 U.K. in order to protect operations carried out by personnel belonging to its universities.[43] 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.[44]

On April 14, 2016 the New York Times, with an editorial, attacked France harshly, calling it "shameful" the silence in the face of Italy's requests to put pressure on Egypt [45]

On March 10, 2016, the European Parliament in Strasbourg passed a motion for a resolution condemning the torture and killing of Giulio Regeni and the ongoing human rights abuses of the al-Sisi government in Egypt. The resolution was passed with an overwhelming majority.[46]

In April 2016, Italy recalled its ambassador to Egypt due to a lack of co-operation, during the investigation, from the Egyptian authorities.[47]

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 Giulio Regeni and for every Regeni in Egypt.[48]

On January 25, 2017, first anniversary of his disappearance, thousands of people gathered to remember Giulio Regeni in Rome, Milan, Fiumicello, and other Italian towns.[49][50][51][52]

On 1 May 2017, Pope Francis confirmed that the Vatican is 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".[53]

Since in 2016 al-Sisi had promised Giulio's parents his personal involvement to establish the truth on the murder of their son,[54] three years after, Paola and Claudio Regeni published a hard reply. "We cannot be satisfied by your condolences anymore, nor by your failed promises", they said.[55]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Regeni, i documenti fatti ritrovare dalla polizia egiziana". (in Italian).
  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.
  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 2016-03-11.
  12. ^ "Nuove torture e vecchie bugie. In un dossier il martirio di Giulio". La Stampa (in Italian). 30 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  13. ^ "Egyptian police claim to shoot dead gang that killed Giulio Regeni". The Guardian. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  14. ^ "الصفحة الرسمية لوزارة الداخلية". Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  15. ^ a b c d Declan Walsh (August 15, 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 2016-03-25.
  17. ^ "Egypt hands over Regeni documents (2)". ANSA. Rome. 2 November 2016.
  18. ^ "Regeni family disappointed by Cambridge teachers". ANSA. 8 June 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
  19. ^ "Caso Regeni, anche la facoltà di Cambridge sceglie di non collaborare alle indagini". L'Espresso. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
  20. ^ "Exclusive: Cambridge University 'fully committed' to assisting Giulio Regeni investigation". Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  21. ^ "The Regeni case, La Repubblica responds to Cambridge: Our commitment to find the truth". la Repubblica. 2017-12-04. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  22. ^ "Vigil held for Giulio Regeni marks four years since his disappearance". Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  23. ^ "Italian newspaper stands by criticism of Giulio Regeni's supervisor". Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  24. ^ "Giulio Regeni murder: Cambridge tutor agrees to speak to Italian investigators". The Guardian. 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  25. ^ "Suspicion falls on Egypt's security forces after the violent death of a young Egyptian". The Economist. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Egypt: Italian's killers may have had criminal or revenge motive". BBC News. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  27. ^ "Egypt: Egypt president suggests his political enemies murdered Italian student". The Guardian. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Steve Scherer (9 September 2016). "Egyptian union head reported Italian student to police before murder". Reuters. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  30. ^ "Egypt police questioned as part of Regeni probe". TheNewArab. December 8, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  31. ^ "No 'explosive' evidence on Regeni (3)". ANSA. 16 August 2017.
  32. ^ Carlo Bonini, Giuliano Foschini (18 August 2017). "Regeni e la pista degli 007. "Gli Usa ci informarono ma noi sapevamo già"". la Repubblica.
  33. ^ Yan (December 22, 2017). "Egypt's prosecution provides Rome with investigation reports on Italian national's murder". 新華社.
  34. ^ "Egypt submits new evidence in Giulio Regeni murder investigation". The Local. December 22, 2017.
  35. ^ Giovanni Bianconi (December 22, 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.
  36. ^ Floriana Bulfon (December 21, 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.
  37. ^ Tom Kington (May 6, 2019). "Giulio Regeni: Italian student killed in Egypt 'was tortured as spy'". The Times.
  38. ^ Carlo Bonini; Giuliano Foschini (May 4, 2019). "Regeni, il nuovo supertestimone: "Un ufficiale mi confessò il sequestro"" [Regeni, new starwitness: “An officer confessed the kidnapping”] (in Italian). La Repubblica.
  39. ^ "Outrage Over an Italian Student's Murder in Egypt". The New York Times. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  40. ^ "Thousands of academics demand inquiry into Cairo death of Giulio Regeni". The Guardian. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  41. ^ "Verità per Giulio Regeni". Amnesty International (in Italian). 24 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  42. ^ See the U.K. Parliamentary petitions website
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Giovanni Parmeggiani. "Verità sull'uccisione di Giulio Regeni #JusticeForGiulio". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  45. ^ Upping the Pressure on Egypt
  46. ^ "European parliament condemns killing of Giulio Regeni in Egypt". The Guardian. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-11.
  47. ^ "When Egypt investigates tragedy, don't expect results". The Economist. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  48. ^ Marco Pratellesi (16 May 2016). "RegeniLeaks, exposing the lies of al Sisi's regime". L'Espresso. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  49. ^ ""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.
  50. ^ "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.
  51. ^ "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.
  52. ^ 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.
  53. ^ 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
  54. ^ Giuliano Foschini (November 3, 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.
  55. ^ Paola Regeni; Claudio Regeni (May 10, 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]