Egyptian authorities have launched an investigation into the murder of the young researcher whose body shows signs of torture and injury. For some, it was a political crime; others point to the lack of evidence. For young activist: " Neither the police nor the security services have any reason” to harm “a foreigner". Meanwhile, “The Egyptian Church will pray for him and his family,” Church spokesman said.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Mystery still surrounds the fate of Giulio Regeni, an Italian researcher who was found dead last Wednesday in Egypt, after days of search. The young man's body showed signs of torture and injuries, and there are conflicting versions from Egyptian authorities about his death.
As Italian authorities in Rome demanded cooperation from the Egyptian government and President Abdelfattah al Sisi, Italian investigators arrived in Egypt to join their Egyptian counterparts to shed light on a case that remains murky.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, said that "there is little go on to know with certainty what happened. We have to wait for the judiciary to do their job.
“I doubt that it was a politically motivated murder,” he explained, with government involvement. It is more likely that “friends or people he had contacted him turned against him.”
“The Egyptian Church,” the clergyman said, “will pray for him and his family, hoping that justice is done."
Giulio Regeni, 28, was a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo (AUC) doing research on Egypt’s economy. He went mission on January 25, a tense day in Egypt, because it was the fifth anniversary of the student uprising in Tahrir Square, which marked a turning point in the country’s recent history.
From the initial reports, it seems that Regeni had an appointment near the square, which is heavily patrolled by Egypt’s police and security forces, as is the rest of the city. However, the researcher never reached his destination.
His lifeless body was found, naked from the waist down, next to the Cairo-Alexandria road. The area is in the western outskirt of the city, very far away from where he lived in El Dokki, in central Giza, or the place he was supposed to visit.
Government officials have ruled the possibility that he might have been arrested by mistake by the Egyptian security services during a sweep of anti-government demonstrators. Robbery or accident do not seem plausible, since the body shows signs of torture and burns, and death appears to be the result of a blow to the head after a slow agony.
In the Egyptian capital, the scholar was reported carrying out research on trade unions and labour rights in Egypt - a sensitive topic in recent years in a country in crisis whose tourist industry has been badly hit by jihadi violence. However, this alone does not seem sufficient to see the death as politically motivated or caused by some agent of the state.
Mina Magdy, 30, general coordinator and spokesman for the Maspero Youth Union, told AsiaNews that "there is nothing certain at present” with respect to a case that is very murky.
Some blame the “security services,” but for the young Christian activist, this direction is “not very likely”. Instead, for him, “an accident is more plausible even though he does not know” what kind of accident it might be.
Created in October 2011 to denounce the massacre of Copts in front of the Maspero building, the Christian-based youth group has thousands of supporters. Together with others in the Tamarod (rebellion) grassroots movement, it organised the campaign at the end of June 2013 that brought 30 million people into the streets and led to the fall of then Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
Despite this, the group has maintained a critical position vis-à-vis the successor al Sisi administration, but its representative does not believe in the latter’s involvement. “Neither the police nor the security services have any reason to do this,” Mina explained. “If they wanted some intelligence, they do not need to go so far with a foreigner, a European, an Italian."
Something else must also be taken into account. “Tourism, one of the country’s main resources, is in crisis because of terrorism,” he noted. “A murder of this kind would keep more foreigners away."
It is also not likely that he was killed because of his research since "there are hundreds of academics in Egypt" studying the same issues. “It is simply not plausible.”
“Maybe something went wrong,” he added, “an accident, some wrong-doing, but nothing of a political nature".
"I hope that the authorities shed light on the matter,” he added. “I cannot quite believe it.” Still, he fears that “Everything will be done to sweep it under carpet as soon as possible."