A preliminary Italian court hearing for reopening the Giulio Regeni trial was held in Rome on 10 January 2022.
Regeni, an Italian postgraduate student at Cambridge University, was conducting research in Cairo when he disappeared and was later found dead by the side of the road having been badly tortured.
Italian prosecutors have concluded that Egypt’s national security agency is responsible for his murder after he was reported to them to be a spy by a street trade unionist who Regeni was interviewing as part of his research.
Four Egyptian officers have been accused of torturing and murdering Regeni including Tariq Sabir, Athar Ibrahim, Usham Helmi and Magdi Sharif but their trial was suspended in October last year because the judge ruled that there was no certainty that the four had been made formally aware that they had been charged in the 2016 abduction despite the fact that prosecutors urged them to continue the trial in absentia.
The prosecutors argued that Egyptian authorities had obstructed the trial related to Regeni’s death, including preventing Italy from contacting the accused.
“What is at stake is Italy’s right to hold a trial regarding a very serious crime that might have taken place abroad, but that involved an Italian citizen,” prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco told the court
Colaiocco argued that the four knew very well the trial was beginning and yet failed to show up.
However, Judge Antonella Capri refused to put the four on trial and ordered the documentation returned to prosecutors, who must try again to locate the suspects.
Regeni’s family was disappointed when the judge ruled in favor of the men’s defense lawyers who said the proceedings were void without proof the four suspects had been made aware.
In May 2021, a judge ruled at a preliminary hearing that media coverage meant news of the investigation would have reached them.
Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif, from Egypt’s General Intelligence, General Tariq Sabir, the former head of state security, police Colonel Husam Helmi and Colonel Aser Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim, a former head of investigations in Cairo city have been accused of “aggravated kidnapping” of Regeni.
Sharif has also been accused of “conspiracy to commit aggravated murder” of the Italian student.