Egyptian officers are being tried in Italy for the murder of a student.
Four Egyptian security personnel were tried in absentia in Italy on Thursday for the gruesome killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo five years ago.
In the case, which has provoked indignation in Italy and damaged diplomatic relations with Egypt, the officers are accused of kidnapping, conspiracy to murder, and severe bodily harm.
Regeni’s parents and sister were in attendance for the hearing, which took place in the bunker chamber of Rebibbia jail, which is frequently used for mafia cases.
When he was taken in January 2016, the 28-year-old was completing research for a doctorate at Cambridge University.
His body was later discovered dumped on the outskirts of Cairo, naked from the waist down, with considerable evidence of torture.
The first hearing in Rome was hailed by Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio as “a result unhoped for in the weeks following the discovery of Giulio’s body,” when the case appeared hopeless.
In a symbolic show of solidarity for the Regeni family, the government indicated it will join the proceedings with a civil claim for damages.
However, the trial could be called off before it even begins.
The court must first determine whether the four suspects, all of whom are personnel of Egypt’s National Security Agency (NSA), are aware of the legal actions against them. Egypt has declined to share its contact information.
At a preliminary hearing in May, a judge decided that media coverage meant the four would have heard about the inquiry. On Thursday, the court might uphold or reverse that ruling.
“We demand a trial after five and a half years,” Regeni family lawyer Alessandra Ballerini said, adding that the pupil had suffered “a world of anguish.”
She told the court that there was “ample evidence” that the guys were not unaware of the proceedings.
General Tariq Sabir, Colonels Athar Kamel and Uhsam Helmi, and Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif, who is suspected of carrying out the killing, are listed in court documents.
Regeni was allegedly kidnapped and slain after being mistaken for a foreign spy, according to investigators.
Eye witness testimony and other “strong bits of proof” implicated the security agents in the murder, according to prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco.
He claimed that all four were aware of the trial and had “systematically and repeatedly acted to hinder and block the investigation.”
He claimed that they were all questioned by the NSA in 2018, five months after Italy alerted Egypt that they were being investigated, and that it was “improbable” that the NSA did not inform them. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.