The New Cairo Prosecution said Friday that the criminal gang killed in clashes with police forces on Thursday inside the New Cairo suburb was not involved in the murder of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni.
It explained that accurate investigations unveiled that the criminal gang was involved in several fraud schemes against foreigners, having defrauded an Italian citizen of $10,000.
Five members of the gang were killed Thursday evening, with the Ministry of Interior claiming that Regeni was killed by the gang, which was “specialised in impersonating police forces” and kidnapped foreigners.
Several official and unofficial reactions ensued from the Interior Ministry’s recent statements on the case. The Italian government issued a rebuttal, stating that it is still monitoring the investigation process in Regeni’s case. Italy asked the Egyptian government for clarification and explanation for the circumstances of Regeni’s death, according to statements from the Italian prime minister’s office to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Moreover, Italian state-television reported that Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiolo said his government insists on finding the truth of Regeni’s case. Meanwhile Italian investigators in Cairo said the case “is far from closed”, affirming the lack of definitive evidence confirming that the alleged kidnappers were involved in killing Regeni. They argued that “kidnappers would be unlikely to hold on to compromising evidence, such as Regeni’s belongings and that they would not torture him for a week if their only purpose was to obtain a ransom”, according to the Italian News Agency ANSA.
They also said that it is not credible that all members of the gang were killed, as stated by the interior ministry’s narrative, further condemning their killing as it prevented them from obtaining any information or carrying out accurate investigations with the gang members.
In a statement from the prosecutor’s office, Rome’s Chief Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone said the new evidence supplied by Egyptian authorities “didn’t prove anything”.
The statement indicated that Rome’s Chief Prosecutor believes that evidence provided from the Egyptian authorities to the Italian investigators team “will not shed light on the death” of Regeni or “identify those responsible for the murder”. He added that investigations should proceed, affirming the necessity of providing detailed data from Cairo’s Prosecutor-General.
Reactions to the Interior Ministry’s statement regarding Regeni’s killers included former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, who said on his Twitter account that he does not believe the Egyptian Interior Ministry’s narrative about Regeni’s death.
The head of the Human Rights Committee in the Italian parliament, Pia Locatelli, denounced in press statements Egyptian interior ministry’s announcements, and said no clear evidence provided has been proving their statements. She further argued that the alleged kidnappers would not torture Regeni for a week, adding that Regeni was subjected to torture by trained personnel.
Regeni’s parents similarly commented on the Egyptian interior ministry’s statements, noting that they are “sure” that Italian government will react to the “outrageous set-up”, according to the Italian News Agency ANSA.
In a subsequent statement to the initial one claiming that the gang had been killed, the ministry said on Thursday night that Regeni’s belongings were discovered in the apartment of one the gang’s members’ sister.
Regeni, who had just turned 28, was a PhD student at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and had come to Cairo as a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo (AUC). He was reported missing on the fifth anniversary of 25 January Revolution. He was last known to be travelling to Downtown Cairo via the Behouth metro station.