In a preliminary hearing Thursday, prosecutors requested a Rome court to place four Egyptian security officials on trial over their alleged involvement in the murder of Giulio Regeni.
Regeni, an Italian PhD student, disappeared and was found dead in Cairo in February 2016. His body showed evidence of significant trauma, and it was suspected that Regeni’s involvement in research on Egyptian trade unions may have resulted in his disappearance, as they have a history of opposition to the Egyptian government.
The Italian government blamed the Egyptian security apparatus for his death, and in late 2020 prosecutors announced Rome would seek to file charges against General Tariq Sabir, Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim, Uhsam Helmi, and Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif, four Egyptian intelligence agents involved in the case. Among the relevant charges were aggravated abduction of a person, complicity in aggravated murder, and complicity in grievous bodily harm. Egyptian state prosecutors have disagreed with this finding and asserted that Regeni may have been killed by robbers or gang members.
Coinciding with the start of the trial was the upload of a since-removed high quality documentary to YouTube by an unknown source that uncharitably depicts Regeni’s disappearance and implies his involvement with anti-government activities in Cairo. Italian media has cast doubt on the veracity of these claims and questioned the timing of the release of this documentary as attempting to color the course of the trial.
As Egypt has refused to cooperate with Italy’s ongoing investigation into Regeni’s death, the trial is expected to continue with the four Egyptian intelligence officials tried in absentia.