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Giulio Regeni: Egypt refuses to accuse police over Italian student's murder

Egypt's State Information Service says charges 'should be based on evidence and not suspicions'
Activists mark the one year anniversary of Giulio Regeni's disappearance in Rome in 2017 (AFP)

Egypt refuses to accuse police officers suspected by Italy of involvement in the grisly murder of an Italian student because of a lack of evidence, the authorities said.

Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old PhD researcher at Cambridge University, disappeared in Cairo in January 2016.

Charges should be based on evidence and not suspicions

- Egypt State Information Service

His body was found by a roadside bearing extensive marks of torture in a case that strained the traditionally close relations between Cairo and Rome, which accused Egypt of insufficient cooperation in the probe.

"Charges should be based on evidence and not suspicions," Egypt's State Information Service said in a statement released late on Sunday.

Last week, Italian judicial sources said prosecutors in Rome plan to place two members of Egypt's security forces under official investigation this week over Regeni's disappearance. 

Italy is increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of the investigation and had decided to press head unilaterally and register the name of the Egyptian suspects, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The Italian parliament also last week suspended all ties with its Egyptian counterpart and Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero summoned Egypt's ambassador, urging Cairo to respect its commitment to bring justice to those responsible for Regeni's murder.

The various actions in Rome came after a Wednesday meeting between Egyptian and Italian public prosecutors on the Regeni investigation.

Egypt has always denied suggestions that its security services were involved in the death of Regeni, who was researching trade unions in Egypt.

Egyptian authorities initially suggested Regeni died in a traffic accident, but later said he was killed by a criminal gang that was subsequently wiped out in a shootout with police.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, told Middle East Eye last week: "The Egyptian government should show it is serious about finding and punishing those responsible for Regeni’s torture and murder by fully cooperating. Italian pressure is vital to ensure that the killers don't get away with their crime.”