Egyptian police reportedly found a bag with the belongings of slain Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni during a Thursday raid on an apartment belonging to the sister of one of the gang members killed during a shoot-out with police earlier in the day.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Interior, police forces raided a Qalyubiya apartment belonging to the sister of one of the slain gang members, Tarek Saad Abdel Fattah. In the apartment, they found a red handbag with Regeni’s wallet, passport, student identification cards for Cambridge University and the American University in Cairo, a credit card, two cellphones, three sunglasses, EGP 5,000, as well as a women’s wallet and wristwatch and 15 grams of a “dark piece that resembles hashish.”
Upon questioning, Abdel Fattah’s wife, who was also present at his sister’s apartment, confirmed that the bag belonged to Abdel Fattah but denied she knew anything about it or its contents.
The statement went on to say that investigations into the gang members led to the discovery that they were behind various incidents of mugging and impersonation. Although the statement includes a list of various theft and mugging incidents – with some of the victims being foreigners – it did not point to any incidents of abduction, killing, or torture in the gang’s record, aside from Regeni.
The discovered items have been transferred to Egypt’s prosecution and Italian authorities have been notified of these developments, the ministry said.
Earlier on Thursday, the ministry had released a statement announcing that security forces had killed a group of men belonging to a gang responsible for impersonating police and kidnapping and mugging foreigners. The men had reportedly opened fire from the microbus they were in when the police attempted to arrest them, leading to the exchanging of fire that left all of the men dead. It remains unclear whether any police were killed or injured in the process.
Local media had reported the shoot-out resulted in the killing of five gang members; however, the later statement from the Interior Ministry clarifies that only four gang members were killed but that police also discovered inside the microbus the body of a fifth individual whose identity has yet to be determined.
Although the ministry’s initial statement did not directly name Regeni as one of he gang members’ suspected victims, many speculated that the ministry was laying the groundwork to announce the gang as the culprits behind Regeni’s abduction and brutal murder.
Regeni, 28, was found dead on the outskirts of Cairo 10 days after he went missing in the Egyptian capital. Autopsies showed unmistakeable signs of torture, including several broken bones and cigarette burns.
He “mysteriously disappeared” on the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution in central Cairo, where police presence was heavy to disallow protestors from gathering. Regeni had arrived in Cairo in September of last year to carry out field research on Egyptian trade unions for his doctoral degree, which he was pursuing at Cambridge University.