Italy probes five Egypt police over student murder: media

Giulio Regeni's (pictured on the flyer) body was found by a roadside in Egypt bearing extensive marks of torture.
Giulio Regeni's (pictured on the flyer) body was found by a roadside in Egypt bearing extensive marks of torture.
Image: Andreas Solano/AFP

Italy has opened a formal investigation into five Egyptian policemen believed to be intelligence agents involved in the disappearance and murder of an Italian student in Cairo two years ago, media reported.

Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old doctoral researcher at Britain's Cambridge University, disappeared in Cairo in January 2016.

His body was found by a roadside bearing extensive marks of torture in a case that strained the traditionally close relations between Cairo and Rome, which accused Egypt of insufficient cooperation in the probe.

Italian media named the five suspects as General Sabir Tareq, Colonel Ather Kamal, Major Magdi Abdlaal Sharif, Captain Osan Helmy and his aide Mahmoud Najem.

Egypt has always denied suggestions that its security services were involved in the death of Regeni, who was researching trade unions in Egypt.

"Charges should be based on evidence and not suspicions," Egypt's State Information Service said in a statement on Sunday amid reports Italy would open a probe.

Egyptian and Italian public prosecutors met in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the investigations into Regeni's case, it said, quoting a judicial source.

The Italian prosecutors asked their Egyptian counterparts "to approve the inclusion of a number of Egyptian policemen on its register of suspects in Italy", it added.

The policemen are suspected by Italian prosecutors of gathering information about Regeni, according to the source.

Frustrated at the slow pace of the probe, Italy withdrew its ambassador to Egypt in April 2016, but sent a new envoy to Cairo the following year.

Egyptian authorities initially suggested Regeni died in a traffic accident, but later said he was killed by a criminal gang that was subsequently wiped out in a shootout with police.

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