Egyptian prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman has said judicial relations with Italy are good. There is widespread anger in Italy after Egypt refused to hand over phone numbers sought by Italian investigators.
An investigation into the brutal death of an Italian doctoral student on the streets of Cairo earlier this year has led to growing tensions between Italy and Egypt, which has refused an Italian request for phone numbers.
Italy wants the phone records of mobile phone subscribers throughout the Cairo district where Giulio Regeni, 28, was living and researching his dissertation on Egyptian labor practices when he disappeared on January 25 - the fifth anniversary of Egypt's pro-democracy uprising.
Egyptian police were out in force on the revolution's anniversary, arresting many. Regeni's badly beaten body turned up on February 3, bearing the telltale signs of state-sponsored torture.
Senior prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman defended Italy dismisses Egypt's account of Regeni murderEgypt's decision not to comply with the request for phone numbers during a news conference after Italy recalled its ambassador to protest what it described as a lack of cooperation in the investigation.
"Egypt rejected the request not because it wanted to be intransigent or to conceal, but rather out of respect for the law and the Egyptian constitution," Suleiman said. "That request violates the law and the constitution, and whoever meets it will have committed a crime."
Lost video footage
Egyptian officials also handed over video footage from a security camera; however, the camera automatically deleted the footage sought by investigators. Some experts say recovering the lost footage is impossible; others say there is a 50-50 chance it could be recovered, but that the process would be very expensive.
"We met 98 percent of all the requests made by the Italians," Suleiman said.
He added that Italy had provided Egypt with only a small number of more than 500,000 files stored in Regeni's laptop computer.
Despite the anger from Italy, Suleiman declared cooperation between the two countries good.
"Judicial cooperation between Egypt and Italy is positive and Italy is one of the best countries that deals with Egypt when it comes to judicial matters," he said. "We are eager to continue this cooperation."
Earlier in the week Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said his country deeply regretted Regeni's death and intended to "transparently" continue its "full cooperation" with Italy to resolve the case and bring the culprits to justice.
But Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi reaffirmed his experts' belief that justice could be found in the trove of phone numbers being held by the Egyptian government.
"Italy, as you know, made a commitment to the family of Giulio Regeni naturally, to the memory of Giulio Regeni," Renzi said, "but also to the dignity of all us, saying we'd only stop in front of the truth."
bik/bw (AP, Reuters)