An Italian doctoral student who was tortured and killed in Egypt in January had been detained by police and then transferred to security forces the day he disappeared, a new report on the case has revealed.
Reuters reported Thursday that, according to Egyptian intelligence and police sources, Giulio Regeni, 28, had been in police custody on the last day he was seen alive on January 25, the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 uprising. Police were out in force that day to prevent protests, fueling speculation they were behind his abduction and death.
Egyptian authorities informed Italian authorities on February 3 that Regeni’s body had been found along a highway on Cairo’s outskirts.
At first, Egyptian officials blamed the death on a road accident. Then, Egyptian police suggested he was the victim of a criminal gang, claiming they had identified people linked to the murder, after killing four members of the gang and finding Regeni’s passport at one of their apartments.
An Italian autopsy found that Regeni had suffered extensive bruises and many fractures, and died after a neck vertebra was broken, perhaps by a heavy blow or a violent twisting of the head.
According to Reuters citing a senior forensic official, Regeni had several broken ribs, signs of electrocution on his genitals and has suffered a brain hemorrhage.
According to the sources cited by Reuters, Regeni was picked up by plainclothes policemen outside a metro station in Cairo, along with an Egyptian man. The connection between the two men, if any, remains unclear.
Regeni was in police custody for approximately 30 minutes before being transferred to a state security compound run by Egyptian Homeland Security.
The sources could not say what happened to Regeni after that.
The case has rattled relations between Italy and Egypt. Italy recently recalled its ambassador in Egypt to protest what it said was Cairo’s lack of cooperation in the Regeni investigation.