Egypt’s top prosecutor on Wednesday cleared five policemen of responsibility in the torture and killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni in 2016.
State prosecutor Hamada al-Sawy said that Egypt has no intention of “pursuing a criminal case in the murder, abduction and torture of Giulio Regeni because the perpetrator is unknown.”
While investigators will continue to search for the murderer, the prosecution has “ruled out” any charges against the five in connection with the case, he added.
The prosecution did not offer an alternative suspect.
Egypt-Italy relations strained
The 28-year-old Cambridge University graduate was in Egypt researching trade unions when he was kidnapped in January 2016. His mutilated body was later found on the outskirts of Cairo. Regeni had also written articles critical of the Egyptian government under a pen name.
The prosecution said Regeni’s parents had immediately collected their son’s belongings from his Cairo residence after the announcement of his death, including his laptop. It added that the Italian side had rejected requests to hand over Regeni’s laptop for inspection.
The statement also suggested that the unknown perpetrator had deliberately chosen January 25 — the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising — for the killing, in an attempt to frame police for the crime.
The decision came nearly three weeks after Italian prosecutors had said they planned to charge four Egyptian officers over the murder of Regeni.
On December 10, Italian public prosecutor Michele Prestipino told a parliamentary commission in Rome there were “elements of significant proof” implicating Egyptian authorities.
“We are going to ask to begin a criminal action concerning certain members of the Egyptian security services,” he said. “We owe it to the memory of Giulio Regeni,” he added.
Regeni’s death has strained diplomatic relations between Egypt and Italy, with Rome accusing Egyptian authorities of non-cooperation.
Italy has rejected multiple theories from Egypt, including that Regeni had been working as a spy, or that he was the victim of a criminal gang.