Italy to return envoy to Cairo, ending standoff over murdered student

Italy will send a new ambassador to Egypt, 16 months after the murder of an Italian graduate student led the Rome government to recall its previous envoy

The murder of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni led the Italian government to recall its envoy in April 2016
The murder of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni led the Italian government to recall its envoy in April 2016

Italy said on Monday it would return its ambassador to Cairo more than a year after Rome withdrew its top diplomat to protest the brutal murder of an Italian graduate student and Cairo's foot-dragging in the investigation.

Giulio Regeni was a 28-year-old doctoral student researching the sensitive issue of Egyptian street vendor trade unions when he vanished from the streets of Cairo in January 2016. His body was discovered in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on 3 February, showing signs of extensive torture.

Regeni had written articles critical of the government under a pen name and suspicion of his murder fell on the regime of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Security and intelligence sources told Reuters news agency that Regeni had been arrested in Cairo on 25 January 2016, and taken into custody.

Regeni disappeared on a day Cairo police were on a tense watch for protests on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 popular uprising.

The Egyptian government denied allegations of involvement.

Italy recalled its ambassador in April 2016 as it sought to obtain evidence from Egypt to solve the murder.

After his body was discovered, Egyptian authorities offered various explanations, including an assertion that Regeni had been hit by a vehicle. Later, they said he was a victim of a robbery.

An Italian autopsy showed that Regeni's body was covered with cuts and his bones were broken, indicating he had been hit with "fists, batons and hammers".

Magistrates in Rome and Cairo have met a half-dozen times over the past year, but no one has been charged.

"The Italian government's commitment remains to clarify the tragic disappearance of Giulio," Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement.

"Sending an authoritative liaison (ambassador) will help, through contacts with the Egyptian authorities, reinforce judicial cooperation and as a consequence the search for the truth," Alfano said.

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