A trial in Rome against four Egyptian officers over the killing of an Italian student that started Thursday has been suspended for the time being. The defendants were not present and may not know that they have been charged, the judge gave as reason. A court-appointed lawyer of one of the four had argued that he had not been able to reach his client in Egypt and therefore the trial cannot proceed now.
The 28-year-old Giulio Regeni was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Cairo five years ago while investigating the trade unions in the country. The suspects may have mistaken him for a foreign spy. Since the assassination, the diplomatic ties between Italy and Egypt have deteriorated considerably.
The four suspects are in general Tariq Sabir, colonels Athar Camel and Uhsam Helmi, and a major Magdi Ibrahim, Abdelal-Sharif. The latter is suspected of eventually killing Regeni. According to the prosecutor, there is “sufficient evidence” that the officers are involved in the murder.
The Italian Foreign minister Luigi di Maio expressed his relief earlier in the day that the case had finally begun. “We could never have hoped for this in the weeks after finding the body.” Regeni was so badly beaten that his mother could only recognize the tip of his nose. He had multiple fractures and five broken teeth. The body was found in a gutter in Cairo.
It was already uncertain whether the trial could continue. The Regeni family lawyer and the prosecutor had said there is no doubt that the four are aware of the trial.
“They work in intelligence, it’s their job to get information. She couldn’t have missed all the coverage in Egypt and beyond,” the prosecutor said.
At a hearing in May, another judge said that it is certain that the Egyptians are aware of the charge.