Regeni’s belongings, including his Camcard, were allegedly found at a gang hideout

The University of Cambridge has claimed it is fully committed to supporting the “search for truth” in the case of murdered student Giulio Regeni, following open criticism from a member of the Italian government.

In a statement, a Cambridge spokesperson told Varsity that the University is “fully committed” to assisting Italian prosecutors who are investigating the death of the Girton PhD student.

The statement also sought to correct what were described as “false and distressing claims” made by Mario Giro, the Italian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. On Friday, Giro denounced the University of Cambridge for an alleged lack of cooperation in the investigation.

“[Y]ou value more your ‘secret researches’ than a human life. What are you hiding?”, he said in a tweet.

The University strongly refuted Giro’s claims, saying: “This death was not just a tragedy for the family, but an assault on academic freedom. Giulio was an experienced researcher using standard academic methods to study trade unions in Egypt. Wild and unfounded speculation undermines efforts to bring to justice those who killed him.”

Regeni, 28, disappeared in January whilst studying Egyptian labour unions as part of his PhD. His body was later found, bearing wounds which some have claimed were typical of Egyptian state torture. In March, the Egyptian authorities claimed to have found a gang responsible for his abduction and death, and said that the group had been killed in a shootout with police. This immediately dismissed by Italian politicians: “I’m sorry, I don’t buy it,” tweeted former Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

Italian authorities are pursuing a full investigation into Regeni’s death. Sergio Colaiocco, one of the investigators, claimed four academics he sought to interview refused to meet him when he visited Cambridge earlier this month.

There are suspicions in Italy that the University is worried about being sued for failure to protect Regeni by the student’s family.

In its statement, the University sought to emphasise the role that it had played in calling for a full and transparent investigation by Egyptian authorities.

“We understand the frustration of Italian prosecutors with the conclusions that have been put forward so far by the Egyptian authorities. The University has pressed the Egyptian authorities to explain Giulio’s death. We have also called on the British government to bring pressure to bear and have backed the Italian government's efforts to find the truth.”

“To be clear”, it added, “the central University authorities have not received any request for help from Italian prosecutors and remain ready to react quickly to any request for assistance. One individual academic at Cambridge has received a request from Italian prosecutors and has already responded to all their questions on two occasions.”

In closing, the University spokesperson said: “We must oppose those who seek to silence others. Cambridge's mission is ‘to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research’. We pay tribute to Giulio who embodied this mission and our values”.

Giulio Regeni’s parents, Paola and Claudio Regeni, visited Brussels last week to speak to the European Parliament about his death as part of demands in Italy for a the Egyptian government to fully address the case. They said that, as a last resort, they would be willing to publish a dossier of nearly 270 photos, which they described as “a real encyclopedia of how torture is practiced in Egypt”, that they claim show the horrific wounds inflicted upon their son’s body.

“We don't want to show them publicly because it would mean we had touched rock bottom”, said Paola Regeni, “but he was a European citizen and the battle for the truth needs to be taken up by Europe”.

They called for EU member states to withdraw ambassadors for Egypt and to join in with demands for a full and transparent investigation. In April, the UK government released a statement via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which said it had raised the issue with Egyptians authorities in Cairo and London. Italy withdrew its ambassador to Egypt earlier in the same month.

Italy should no longer be on friendly terms with Egypt, Paolo Regeni said. “You don’t kill the children of your friend.”

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