Egypt says case of Italian student's murder to be closed temporarily

·2-min read

CAIRO/ROME (Reuters) - Egypt considers that the person who killed Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016 is still unknown and it will temporarily close the case file on the murder, Egyptian and Italian prosecutors said in a joint statement on Monday.

Regeni, a 28-year-old postgraduate student at Cambridge University, vanished in Cairo in January 2016. His body was found almost a week later and a post mortem examination showed he had been tortured before his death.

Egypt's public prosecution has evidence against a criminal gang accused of robbing Regeni but believes that "the material perpetrator" of the murder remains unknown, Monday's statement said.

"Egypt's public prosecution will proceed to the temporary closure of the case ... charging the competent investigative authorities to take all necessary measures to identify those responsible for the murder," it said.

The Rome prosecutor's office was wrapping up its own, separate investigation into five Egyptian security agents it suspects in the case and would shortly present its findings to a judge, the statement also said.

It said the case against the five suspects carried no implication for the Egyptian state or institutions, and Egypt's public prosecutor held that there was insufficient evidence to bring the case to trial.

A legal source in Rome told Reuters that the Italian prosecutors are expected to push for the trial of some or all of these five suspects. Their case is expected to be formally closed on Friday.

Regeni's family called the statement the "umpteenth slap in the face" from Egyptian authorities and appealed for Italy to recall its ambassador to Egypt, a step that Rome took in the aftermath of the killing. It has since reinstalled an envoy in Cairo.

"Today the Egyptian prosecutors have the effrontery to raise 'reservations' about the work of our magistrates and investigators and to consider the evidence they have gathered as insufficient," the family said in a statement.

Intelligence and security sources told Reuters in 2016 that police had arrested Regeni outside a Cairo metro station and then transferred him to a compound run by Homeland Security. The police have denied this and Egyptian officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in Regeni's killing.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy, Nayera Abdullah and Domenico Luisi; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Aidan Lewis; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Hugh Lawson)