Italy sets trial date for Egyptians over student murder

·2-min read
Amnesty International activists in Turin mark the fourth anniversary of the death of Italian student Giulio Regeni, whose mutilated body was found on the outskirts of Cairo days after he disappeared on January 25, 2016

An Italian judge on Tuesday set an October date for the trial of four Egyptian security officers accused of brutally murdering an Italian student in Cairo five years ago.

The mutilated body of Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old PhD student researching the sensitive topic of trade unions in Egypt, was found on the outskirts of Cairo days after he disappeared on January 25, 2016.

Following a request by prosecutors, judge Pierluigi Balestrieri on Tuesday referred four Egyptian security officers for trial over his death starting on October 14, according to the AGI news agency.

Investigators accuse them of inflicting days of torture on Regeni before he died, leaving him so disfigured that his mother said she only recognised her son by "the tip of his nose".

Colonel Uhsam Helmi, General Tariq Sabir, Colonel Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim and Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif are all accused of kidnapping, with Sharif charged with inflicting the fatal injuries.

Cairo strongly rejects the allegations and the men are unlikely to be extradited to stand trial in person.

Egypt's public prosecutor cleared all four in December along with a fifth suspect and said he would drop the case.

Regeni's death sparked outrage in Italy and severely strained diplomatic relations with Egypt. It also triggered fresh criticism of Egypt's human rights record under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The case remains a political issue in Italy, with Regeni's parents, Claudio and Paola, meeting with Prime Minister Mario Draghi last week.

Their lawyer Alessandra Ballerini expressed hope Tuesday that they would finally get justice for their son.

"Paola and Claudio often say that in Giulio's case, all human rights were violated," she said, according to AGI.

"From today we have the reasonable hope that at least the right to the truth will not be violated.

"It has taken us 64 months. But it is a good goal and a good starting point."