The investigation into the death of Cambridge student, Giulio Regeni is ongoingEPA

The Egyptian police has admitted to having investigated the activities of Giulio Regeni, the Girton PhD student who was found dead in Cairo in February. The statement follows a number of other revelations about Regeni’s death.

Egyptian and Italian prosecutors stated that Regeni was investigated by the police, but that the inquiry lasted only three days and was dropped after investigators concluded that his work did not pose a threat to the Egyptian government.

Full details of the signs of torture found on Regeni’s body have also been revealed in a 220-page post-mortem carried out by Italian coroners, in which it emerges that he had the letter X carved into his left hand, forehead, back, and above his right eye. “They used him like a blackboard,” said Paola Regeni, his mother.

In addition to these letters, coroners also found that Regeni had five shattered teeth, burns all over his body, and broken bones, including a broken neck which has been determined to have killed him after a sustained period of torture.

“We cannot understand how it can be doubted that poor Giulio was systematically tortured,” said his parents, commenting on the post-mortem’s findings. They have previously said that they would be willing to publish a dossier of nearly 270 photos, described as “a real encyclopedia of how torture is practiced in Egypt”, showing the horrific injuries inflicted upon their son’s body.

It was first reported that the Egyptian police had investigated Regeni during his time in Egypt in April, when six government officials, three from the Egyptian intelligence services and three from the police, independently informed Reuters that police had brought the Italian student into custody on 25th January.

At the time, the Egyptian government denied the claim: an official in the country’s department of Homeland Security, said that "There is no connection whatsoever between Regeni and the police or Interior Ministry or Homeland Security. He has never been held in any police station or here. The only time he came into contact with police was when the police officials stamped his passport when he landed in Egypt.”

Friends and family of Regeni, as well as several international observers of Egyptian politics, have long alleged that the Egyptian authorities were responsible for the student’s killing. The Egyptian government denies the claim, and has offered a series of other explanations, each rejected by the Italian government, including that Regeni was killed in a car accident, by a lover or by an infamous gang.

However, the continuing incarceration in Egypt of Ahmed Abdallah, a legal consultant to the Regeni family, has only increased suspicion towards the Egyptian police. Regeni’s parents have called upon the Italian government not to send its newly-appointed Egyptian ambassador to the country until the régime begins to co-operate. They claim that the nature of the injuries sustained by Regeni shows that they “can only be the perverse deed of some torture professional.”

Regeni was in Egypt researching the country's trade union movementSWNS

Regeni was in Egypt to research trade unions, about which the country’s military régime is notoriously sensitive. Trade unions played a vital role in toppling the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, orchestrating stoppages to damage the country’s production and using their experience of strike action to organise protesters. As a result, the new government, created when the military overthrew the democratically-elected Mohammed Morsi, has been keen to neutralise this potential threat by clamping down in union activity within the country.

It is possible that Regeni came to the attention of the Egyptian authorities as a result of the meetings he organised with union leaders over the course of his research. Shortly before his disappearance, Regeni sent an article to the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto about attempts by the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Service union to rally other unionists against government attacks on independent trade unions, which has fuelled speculation regarding Egyptian involvement in his death.

The University of Cambridge continues to be involved in the investigation into what happened to Regeni, and on 7th September, at the request of an Italian prosecutor made on 2nd August, the University sent documents pertaining to Regeni’s death to Rome. It has also emerged that on 10th June, the University sent a letter to the Secretary State of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pressing for more progress in the pursuit of the truth of Regeni’s killing.

The University has previously been criticised, separately by an Italian minister and by attendees of a meeting of the Cambridge branch of Amnesty International, for not having taken a sufficiently close interest in Regeni’s death.

Correction 12/09/16: An earlier version of this article said that an Italian prosecutor had made a request for documents on the 6th of June. The actual date was in fact the 2nd August. We apologise for the error.

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