Italian court suspends long-awaited Regeni murder trial Human rights news

An Italian judge has adjourned the trial of student Julio Regeni in Cairo because of fears that the defendants were not informed of the charges against them.

The first hearing in a long-awaited trial against four Egyptian security officials on Thursday discussed whether it was fair to try the defendants in absentia.

Italian prosecutors in Rome have called for the trial to continue in absentia, arguing that Egyptian authorities blocked an investigation into the 2016 murder of a 28-year-old graduate student in Cairo and prevented Italy from communicating with the suspects.

Prosecutor Sergio Colaicco told the court, “Italy’s right to be tried for a serious crime committed abroad that is at risk, but involves Italian citizens.”

But Judge Antonella Capri ruled in favor of the court-appointed defense attorneys, who argued that the process had been overturned because no one in Egypt could reach the defendants.

Noting the need to guarantee a fair trial, Judge Capri overturned the decision to keep the four at trial and ordered the documentation to be returned to prosecutors, who will have to try again to find the suspects.

Egypt’s General Intelligence Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdellal Sharif, General Tariq Sabir, former state security chief, police colonel Usham Helmi and former Cairo city investigation chief Col. Athar Kamel Mohammed Ibrahim, are charged with “serious kidnapping”. Sharif is also accused of “conspiracy to commit serious murder”.

Tranquilino Sarno, a lawyer appointed by the court to defend Athar Kamel, said the prosecution had insufficient information about the four and that even his client’s age and location had been misinterpreted because he was “a normal policeman.”

“The accused do not know anything. That is not what they are accused of. Not that we are here today. Who is not protecting them, ”Sarno told the court.

At a preliminary hearing in May, a judge ruled that media coverage meant the news of the investigation would reach them. The decision was overturned on Thursday, shortly after the hearing was adjourned at 10:00 pm local time.

Alegandra Balerini, a lawyer representing the Regeni family, said the ruling was a “push” that “rewards Egypt’s arrogance.”

“We won’t give up,” he said. “We want the trial of Giulio Regeni.”

Lawyer Alessandra Ballarini, left, with the victim’s family at the start of the Julio Regini murder trial [Yara Nardi/Reuters]

Regeni’s parents and sister were present at the hearing in the bunker room of the Rebibia prison in Rome, often the stage for mafia trials.

The prosecution presented the court with a list of 13-point evidence pointing to an attempt to weaken the Egyptian investigation, which sought to prevent the suspects from disclosing how they were charged.

Koliyoko, the prosecutor, said Egyptian investigators dragged their feet in the case, ignoring 39 of the 64 separate requests for information, and often handing out useless material, including footage of a metro station that was missing a deadline during which Regeni disappeared. Was done.

The then prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that the lack of co-operation was affecting bilateral relations, and that Italy had occasionally tried to address the suspects through diplomatic and government channels.

“I don’t think it was possible to do anything more humanely (to find the four suspects),” Kolaikko said.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi de Maio welcomed the first hearing in Rome, saying “results are not expected in the weeks following the discovery of Giulio’s body.”

The government says it is being linked to a civil lawsuit for damages on a show of support for the Regeni family.

Regeni, a graduate student at Cambridge University in the UK, went missing in Cairo in January 2016. About a week later his body was found and an autopsy revealed that he had been brutally tortured before his death.

Italian and Egyptian prosecutors went out to investigate the case together, but both sides later fell apart and came to very different conclusions.

Egyptian police initially said Regeni died in a road accident, then said he was abducted by thugs, who later killed him in a gunfight. In November, Egyptian prosecutors said the man who killed Regani was still unknown.

Italian prosecutors claim they have eyewitness testimony and other “significant pieces of evidence” that involve security officials in the killings.

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