Security forces reportedly arrested on Friday family members of Ibrahim Farouk and Mostafa Bakr, who were purported to be members of a criminal gang that the Ministry of Interior alleged was behind the murder of PhD student Giulio Regeni.
The ministry later retracted its allegations, but at the time they had claimed that they were members of a criminal gang specialised in “impersonating policemen” for purposes of kidnapping and robbing foreigners living in Egypt.
Farouk and Bakr were killed in clashes with police forces in the Fifth Settlement suburb in New Cairo on 24 March, according to lawyer Kareem Abdel Rady.
Hours after the incident on 24 March, the ministry released a security statement accusing the five people of being in a gang and killing Regeni.
The arrest of the family members on Friday came following a video report by journalist Basma Mostafa published on DotMisr news website. The family members of the five “gang members” appear detailing their professions and legal status, and explaining how the five men were killed and how they were informed of their deaths.
Lawyer Kareem Abdel Rady told Daily News Egypt: “the arrested family members did not appear in the State Security Prosecution so far. Bakr’s sons were taken to an unknown location, but Farouk’s brother and father received summons to attend a State Security Prosecution investigation early Saturday.”
Farouk’s brother, Ahmed Farouk, could not be reached for comment.
In the video report, the families accused security forces of murdering their relatives without cause and evidence. They also denied all the Interior Ministry’s accusations against the five men.
Farouk’s family condemned his murder, saying: “If our son had committed any crime, the ministry had the right to punish him or refer him to court, but not to kill him.”
Ahmed Farouk further noted that the Interior Ministry’s detailed statement included the names and ages of four victims, but excluded his brother, only referring to him as an “unidentified body”. Farouk was the driver of the microbus carrying the four other victims.
Further, Rasha Tarek, who lost her husband Salah Ali, her brother Saad Tarek and her father Tarek Abdel Fattah, said that prior to their murder, the three men were on their way to begin a job in construction and Farouk was driving them there.
“I heard Saad speaking to someone on his phone in a formal manner, with someone who seemed to be a police officer, immediately before leaving the house with my father and husband. During the call, my brother was confirming that he will ‘go to him’,” she said.
In the statement issued following the five men’s deaths, the Ministry of Interior supported its claims of their involvement in Regeni’s case by showing pictures of his belongings found in an apartment in Qalyubia, belonging to a family member of one of the five men.
Tarek commented on the allegations, stating that some of the items shown in the picture attached with the security report belong to her family members. She said the headphones and one of the sunglasses shown in the pictures belongs to her brother, while one of the wallets belongs to her mother.
The video was widely shared on social media pages, along with a hashtag calling on the Interior Ministry to investigate the murder of the five people.
The spokesperson of the Strong Egypt Party (SEP), headed by former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, called on the state to launch an immediate investigation on the case.
Regeni, who had just turned 28, had come to Cairo as a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo (AUC). He was reported missing on the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution.
One day after the interior ministry’s allegations that the five men killed Regeni, the New Cairo Prosecution said accurate investigation revealed that the gang was not involved in his murder.