A sign held at a 'truth for Giulio Regeni' protest event in CambridgeDaniel Gayne

A senior official in the Italian foreign office has denounced the University of Cambridge for its alleged lack of cooperation in the investigation into the murder of Giulio Regeni in a tweet on Friday.

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mario Giro, strongly criticised the university, writing: “you value more your ‘secret researches’ than a human life. What are you hiding?”.

Regeni, 28, was a PhD student at Girton College, and disappeared in January during a police crackdown in Cairo while investigating Egyptian labour unions. His body was later found half-naked just outside of the city, bearing wounds supposedly the hallmarks of Egyptian state torture.

Despite initial assurances that they would assist the investigation in any way possible, the University of Cambridge has come under increasing criticism, particularly in Italy, for its alleged failure to provide important information.

In February, David Runciman, head of POLIS, called on the Egyptian Consul General to “conduct a thorough and complete investigation into this tragic incident”.  

Yet Giro told The Guardian that he had been “astonished” by the university’s “negative response” to the recent request by the chief prosecutor in Rome for more information about Regeni’s study of Egyptian labour unions.

Sergio Colaiocco, who is investigating the killing, visited Cambridge earlier this month with the intention of interviewing four academics, but said all four refused to meet him.

In Italy, there are suspicions that Cambridge is worried about being sued for compensation by the family of Mr Regeni for their failure to protect him.

Writing in an email to The Guardian, Giro said: “I was convinced – considering all the meetings held there on this case – that the university authorities would be helpful in searching the truth about Giulio. What we received is a bureaucratic response through which the university seems trying only to protect itself. I don’t know from what.

“This is very upsetting. They seem not interested in the truth, not concerned about Giulio’s death. Some of them rejecting the responsibility on other universities… absurd behaviour”.

Asked what specifically he believed Cambridge had done wrong, he responded: “I don’t know. The only clear thing, sadly, is that they are not really cooperating. Here everybody is asking why.”

It is unclear whether Giro’s message is endorsed by the Italian government at large.

In a statement last week, the University insisted that they had not received any requests from Italian prosecutors, and a spokesperson told Varsity that “the university remains ready to react quickly to any request for assistance from the Italian authorities."

"Any other suggestion is both distressing to Giulio’s family and friends and does not take us closer to understanding who committed this brutal and senseless murder of one of our cherished PhD students.

“The University of Cambridge has not refused to cooperate with the Italian authorities and continues to use every avenue to discover the truth about the brutal murder of Giulio Regeni.

The University acknowledged that one academic had received a request from prosecutors, but a spokesperson told Varsity that the central University authorities had not been approached. “She has already been interviewed by the Italian police and is in the process of responding to their questions in writing”, read last week’s statement.

Earlier this week Regeni’s parents, Claudio and Paola Regeni, went to the European Parliament to call on EU countries, including Britain, to cease relations with Egypt, saying “you don’t kill the children of your friend”.