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Egypt says gang killed Italian student

The Egyptian interior ministry said the gang specialised in abducting foreigners and robbing them
File photo of Giulio Regeni, whose mutilated body was found in a ditch on the edge of Cairo in January

The Egyptian interior ministry said on Thursday they had identified the killers of Italian student Giulio Regeni hours after security forces shot dead members of a criminal gang said to have abducted foreigners by posing as policemen.

The interior ministry said in a statement that a van used by the criminals had been found containing an unidentified corpse with a bullet wound.

Regeni's belongings were then found at the home of one of the suspect's sister.

"Italian security has been has been notified about the results," the statement said.

The Cambridge University graduate student's mutilated body was found in a ditch on the edge of Cairo in January nine days after he disappeared.

Regeni was the only foreigner reported missing recently in Egypt.

Earlier on Thursday, the ministry said that "security forces managed to track down a gang in new Cairo that used to pose as policemen. It specialised in abducting foreigners and robbing them".

"There was an exchange of fire with the police and all members of the gang were killed," it added without giving a toll.

Italian media and Egyptian opposition figures suspect Regeni was abducted and killed by elements of Egyptian security forces, an allegation Cairo has steadfastly denied.

Earlier this month the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning “the torture and assassination” of Regeni in Egypt, describing the killing as not being isolated but taking place in a “context of torture, death in custody and enforced disappearances”.

The resolution called for a joint and transparent investigation into Regeni’s death by both Egyptian and Italian authorities and passed with a huge majority – 588 MEPs voted for it, just 10 voted against, and 59 abstained. 

Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, who supported the resolution, told Middle East Eye that Regeni’s killing has served as a “wake-up call” to European politicians about the seriousness of the human rights situation in Egypt.

“It is sad that it took the torturing to death of a European student to act as a wake-up call for some that still needed one,” she said. “This case, along with the structural repression of Egyptians, including through torture, imprisonment and disappearances, should much more strongly guide EU policies towards Egypt.”

Egyptian officials have assured Italy of a "transparent investigation" into Regeni's murder, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowing to "get to the truth" of the case.

Regeni was in Cairo doing research for his doctoral thesis on Egyptian labour movements.