Italy has summoned its ambassador from Cairo for "urgent" consultations over Egypt's probe into the murder of an Italian researcher. Egyptian officials have provided conflicting accounts of the student's death.
Ambassador Maurizio Massari was summoned home to help determine the truth "about the barbarous murder of Giulio Regeni," the Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on Friday.
Regeni, a 28-year-old graduate student who was researching Egyptian labor
movements, went missing in Cairo on January 25, the fifth anniversary of the toppling of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. At the time of Regeni's disappearance, police were patrolling Cairo's streets to prevent demonstrations.
His body was found over a week later in a roadside ditch, showing signs of "protracted" torture that had most likely lasted several days, according to Italian officials.
Agencies under suspicion
Many observers in Italy suspect that Regeni was captured and killed by members of Egyptian security agencies. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that the pattern of torture suggested that Regeni's killers believed he was a spy.
Egyptian officials have rejected such claims.
The accusations, however, grew louder after Egyptian officials gave a series of contradictory statements about Regeni's death.
On the day his body was found, a police official described the death as a traffic accident, with others denying that signs of torture had been found. This was followed by a claim that the murder was motivated by personal reasons, and finally a conflicting account about Regeni dying by the hand of a local gang, who were then all killed in a shootout with the police.
Authorities said the gang was known for posing as police officers.
In a statement released on Friday, Italian prosecutors rejected that explanation, saying they were convinced there were "no elements indicating direct involvement by a band of criminals in the torture and death."
Waiting for evidence
The statement follows a two-day visit by two Egyptian prosecutors and three senior police figures. The team traveled to Rome to assure their Italian colleagues of Cairo's commitment to solving the case.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, the Egyptian delegation failed to provide all of the requested evidence, including a surveillance video from near the metro station where Regeni was last seen. Also, the Italian prosecutors said they were still waiting on data from Cairo cell towers that had connected to Regeni's phone.
The Italian officials described the meetings as "disappointing," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said.
The decision to recall the ambassador was made "immediately" after Italian prosecutors presented their assessment of the meetings, Renzi told reporters on Friday.
Italy would stop "only once we get the truth," Renzi added, citing a commitment to the Regeni family.
dj/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)