Italian experts to travel to Egypt to probe student’s death
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt said on Sunday it has agreed to Italy’s request to send experts to try and retrieve footage from security cameras at a Cairo metro station that a murdered Italian student used the day he disappeared nearly a year ago.
A statement by Egypt’s chief prosecutor said the Italian experts would be accompanied by others from a “specialized” German company. Together, they will analyze the material in the hope of finding who is behind the disappearance of Giulio Regeni.
Regeni is known to have gone to the Dokki station on his way to visit a friend in Cairo last Jan. 25, the 5th anniversary of the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Thousands of security forces are routinely deployed in Cairo on the uprising’s anniversary, and that week police had been aggressively rounding up activists to head off protests. That has led to speculation, denied by Egypt, that Egyptian security forces were behind his abduction and death.
Regeni’s brutally tortured body was found by the side of a suburban Cairo road nearly 10 days after he disappeared.
Last April, a senior Egyptian prosecutor told a Cairo news conference that Egyptian investigators could not meet an Italian request for video footage from the security cameras at the Dokki metro station, the nearest station to Regeni’s Cairo apartment. They argued that the recently installed cameras automatically erased footage.
The prosecutor, Mustafa Suleiman, said the U.S. manufacturers of the cameras informed the Egyptian investigators that it was not possible to retrieve the erased footage. A German company approached by the Egyptians said retrieval had a 50/50 chance of success but that the procedure was costly.
It was not immediately clear if the German company that would send experts to join the Italian ones is the same one that Suleiman was referring to last year.
Egypt’s government has suggested several alternative scenarios to Regeni’s death.
It initially said he was killed in a road accident. Later, it claimed that security forces had killed members of a kidnapping gang in a raid and circulated photos of Regeni’s ID cards it said had been found at the scene. That explanation was widely dismissed, including in the Italian media, which has closely followed the case.
Egypt later debunked its own story, saying the gang may not have had any links to Regeni’s death, but it never explained why the student’s ID cards were found at the scene, again prompting speculation of a police cover-up.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has promised that investigators would work “night and day” to identify and prosecute those responsible for the torture and killing of Regeni and blamed the local media for wrongfully pointing an accusing finger at his security forces, whose human rights record are regularly criticized by rights groups.