Wednesday, February 24News For London

Britons react to the death of Giulio Regeni

Multiple fractures, cigarette burns and fingernails forcibly extracted. This is how the body of Giulio Regeni was found in Cairo. Meanwhile, in Britain, his friends and colleagues want to know why!

Giulio Memoriam - source: Facebook

Mr.Regeni had spent the last ten years of his life studying and working in Leeds, Oxford and Cambridge. He went to Egypt to conduct a field research on the labor movements and independent trade unions as part of his PhD research on international development.

The 28-year-old Cambridge PhD student was reported missing on the 25th of January, 2016. His body was later found in a Cairo suburb, half naked and with torture marks.

His friends and colleagues are concerned that in spite of the announced joint investigation led by the Egyptian and Italian governments, the truth might not be revealed.

They started  a Parliamentary petition urging the UK government to ensure a credible investigation of the murder of Italian Cambridge PhD student. It has gathered more than 4,000 signatures in three days.

Paz Zarate, a  former colleague of Mr.Regeni, believes there have been similar cases in Egypt over the past few months and the results of the investigations haven’t been shared with the public.  This includes the case of the Mexican tourists who were killed during a safari trip. The case remains unsolved. “We want to make sure this doesn’t happen with Giulio’s case,” she said.

Earlier this month, Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement declaring its and Italy’s mutual desire to uncover the reasons behind this incident and its perpetrators.”


The Academics are concerned

In an open letter of protest released Monday -by Mr.Regeni’s colleagues at the University of Cambridge- more than 4,600 academics expressed their grief for his death while calling for investigations into his fate as well as the fate of hundreds of Egyptians who have disappeared or been abused and killed while in police custody.

The Academics letter - source:
The Academics letter – source:

The Egyptian government replied to this letter expressing their commitment to a comprehensive and impartial investigation with full cooperation with the Italian government, however, they expressed their total rejection of the statement made in the letter regarding arbitrary arrests, tortures and disappearances in Egypt.

Angelo Martelli, a researcher from the LSE and one of the signatories of the open letter, thinks the attack on Giulio Regeni should be considered as an attack on freedom of research and academia en masse.

Meanwhile, the University and College Union (UCU) has sent a letter  – on behalf of its 110,000 members – to the Egyptian Ambassador in London expressing their outrage of what happened  as well as their concern for the Academic environment in Egypt amid a crackdown on freedom of expression.

Part of the letter sent to the Egyptian Embassy from the UCU.

The Egyptian Embassy in London told Westminster World that they have no knowledge of this letter.

He was tortured to death

A senior source at the Egyptian forensics authority told Reuters that Mr.Regeni had seven broken ribs, signs of electrocution on his penis, traumatic injuries all over his body, and a brain hemorrhage.

His body also bore signs of cuts from a sharp instrument suspected to be a razor, abrasions, and bruises. He was likely assaulted using a stick as well as being punched and kicked, the source added.

A second autopsy in Italy  revealed what was described by Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano as something inhuman and animal like.

Giulio Regeni left his apartment on the evening of 25th  January  in Cairo, Egypt. His flatmates said  he was on his way to meet a friend and never came back.

Surveillance Cameras

An eyewitness told the New York Times that the security camera’s footage would have shown Mr. Regeni, being led away by two men believed to be Egyptian security agents. The Egyptian police, however, have yet to request the footage.

On 8 February, Egypt’s Interior Ministry held a press conference where Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar said: “Some have implied that Egypt’s security services are involved in this incident,” he added, “we only received notice of his disappearance on January 27.”

Mr. Abdel Ghaffar went on to claim that Egypt’s security forces are conducting investigations with “complete transparency and professionalism” to help identify those responsible for Mr.Regeni’s murder.”

It is worth noting that Giulio Regeni went missing on the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. On this day, Security forces were deployed in high gear across the country where at least 150 opposition protesters were arrested on that day as per local media reports.

Giulio Regeni’s friends are hoping the petition would complete 10,000 signatures, so they get a response from the government.

To sign the petition, click here