Repercussions continue in Egypt following of the critical murder case of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni. Announcements by Italian media outlets that an Egyptian delegation is scheduled to visit Rome on 5 April have come amid a complete blackout from their Egyptian counterparts.
Meanwhile, Italian and foreign media reported that the meeting was postponed. Italian news agency Ansamed reported Monday that the Italian Interior Ministry’s department of public security said the meeting will take place on 7 and 8 April.
Egypt has not made any official statements regarding the visit or its postponement. A source from the general prosecution authorities, who requested anonymity, confirmed to Daily News Egypt Monday that a delegation will be visiting Rome on Tuesday.
The source moreover labelled it as a delegation of “security officials”, and not prosecution authorities, although he added that a prosecution official could join the delegation in an unofficial capacity. He said he had not been informed of any postponements.
On a further note, according to local media reports, a senior US-based reporter affiliated to Egyptian state TV claimed Monday that Italy has “collected new information on the case”, which has allowed the identification of an official who was responsible in Regeni’s case. The reporter pointed her finger at the head of the Giza investigations unit, Khaled Shalaby, who is believed to have been investigating Regeni himself prior to his death.
However, the reports have yet to see any confirmation, and the reporter deleted her claims after previously posting them to her official Facebook page. Regeni, 28, was found in a ditch along the Cairo-Alexandria Desert in February, after having been reported missing for nine days. His body reportedly bore signs of torture and electrocution.
“It is about time Egypt realises that it will not get by through manipulating the case—meaning that they cannot disregard it as they would if the victim had been Egyptian. If we reach a point where national judicial mechanisms are insufficient to bring Regeni’s murderers to justice, this will open doors for foreign investigations in to the case,” human rights lawyer Negad El-Boraie explained to Daily News Egypt Monday.
El-Boraie believes the Egyptian authorities face the risk of Italy opening its own investigations in the case, and present suspects. “Until now, Italy seems committed and patient regarding Egypt’s normal judicial process, but they have already become suspicious about the effectiveness of the judicial system in bringing the perpetrators to accountability,” he added.
El-Boraie further warned against giving Italy reason to believe that Egypt is covering up or concealing evidence, especially in light of the possibility that Italian investigators could have information about the case that Egypt does not yet know about.
The risk of international sanctions is debatable. Eslam Abol Enein, programme director at the Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR), said international mechanisms and laws are complicated in their procedures, and it is unlikely that Egypt will face international arbitration, especially as the case is still open.
El-Boraie contended that even if the Italian prosecutor ever decided to issue warrants against Egyptian officials, they will not be enforced. “It does not mean that we are not facing international risks, and I believe Egypt should find its way out either by admitting it, if a security body was involved, or by announcing it is shorthanded on investigations and requires foreign assistance,” he concluded.
The Italian media has played up criticism of the Egyptian authorities’ handling of the case, especially La Repubblica and Il Corriere Della Sera, highlighting the claim that “what happened to Giulio is not an isolated case”.
The phrase, used by Regeni’s mother Paola during a wide press conference held at the Italian senate last Tuesday, also featured in the resolution on Egypt adopted by the European Parliament on 10 March, which was launched in reference to the Regeni case. Il Corriere led with this statement in an article published Monday, entitled “533 enforced disappearances in Egypt over the past eight months, 396 disappearances still unaccounted for”.