Rome recalls Cairo ambassador after talks on Regeni murder case fail

Italy recalled Friday its ambassador to Cairo after its investigators failed to obtain key evidence from Egyptian peers about Giulio Regeni, an Italian university researcher brutally murdered in Egypt two months ago.

Ambassador Maurizio Massari was summoned to Rome "for consultations" on "an urgent assessment of the most opportune moves to renew efforts to find out the truth on the barbarous murder of Giulio Regeni," Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said.

Separately, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi endorsed the move in a Facebook message, warning that "Italy will stop only before the truth."

The remarks came at the end of a two-day round of talks in Rome between Italian police and prosecutors and Egyptian counterparts, organized after Italy complained that Egypt was dragging its feet over the affair.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said late Friday that it has not yet been "officially" informed that the ambassador was recalled, nor of the reasons behind the decision.

"So far there has been no statement on the results of the meetings between the Egyptian investigating team and the Italians," ministry spokesman Ahmad abu Zeid said. 

The ministry is "waiting for the return of the Egyptian investigation team to listen to their assessment of the outcome of the meetings," he said.

Zeid added that Cairo would take into account Rome's take on the discussions and that "the situation will be evaluated in an integrated manner."

The Italian side wanted Egyptian authorities to provide mobile phone data tracking Regeni's movements and video footage from the Cairo underground station he is believed to have entered on the day of his disappearance, but the material has not been provided.

The Regeni case has sparked global outrage and attracted renewed scrutiny of Egypt's human rights record under President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, amid suspicions - refuted by Cairo - that Egyptian security agencies had a hand in the killing.

Regeni was in Cairo to research trade unions, a politically sensitive topic in Egypt, on behalf of Britain's Cambridge University.

He disappeared on January 25, a day on which Egypt's security services were on high alert for possible demonstrations to mark the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted longtime dictator Hosny Mubarak.

Seven days later, the 28-year-old was found dead on the side of a motorway on the outskirts of Cairo, with what Italian officials who later inspected the body said were clear signs of torture. Egyptian authorities initially blamed the death on a road accident.

Several other explanations for the murder were offered by Egyptian officials and media in the following weeks - most recently that Regeni was the victim of a gang of robbers - but none of them were judged credible by Italian authorities.

Last update: Sat, 09/04/2016 - 01:43
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