The Egyptian investigative team probing the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni refused to submit phone records to Italian officials, causing the rise in tensions that culminated in the withdrawal of Italy’s ambassador to Egypt, a deputy Egyptian prosecutor said on Saturday.
“This demand goes against the constitution and the law and is a crime for anyone who does it and we told them that the public prosecution is doing this itself (looking at phone records) and will give you the results,” Reuters quoted Mustafa Suleiman as saying in a news conference.
Suleiman was a member of the Egyptian team that had met with their Italian counterparts on Thursday to present a 2000-word report on investigation into the torture and murder of 28-year-old Regeni, including testimonies from 200 witnesses “connected” to Regeni.
According to Suleiman, Italy requested phone records belonging to as many as one million phone users but the Egyptian team “reiterated its absolute refusal,” despite Italy making this demand as a requirement for further cooperation between the two countries on the case.
Suleiman also said that Italy had requested video footage from the metro station where Regeni was last seen but that Egypt “does not have a program” to retrieve the footage.
Following the meeting between the Egyptian and Italian teams, Italy recalled its ambassador to Egypt on Friday for “consultations” following the “developments” in the Regeni case.
“Urgent decisions are needed on the most proper actions to bolster efforts aimed at finding the truth about the barbaric murder of Giulio Regeni,” Italy’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Regeni had arrived in Cairo last September as a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo to carry out field research on independent trade unions in Egypt. He “mysteriously disappeared” on January 25, the fifth anniversary of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and his tortured body was found 10 days later in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo.
Autopsies showed that Regeni was subjected to a “slow death,” with his body riddled with multiple stab wounds and cigarette burns.
While many have pointed the finger of blame at Egypt’s state agencies, which are notorious for their reliance on torture methods, Egyptian officials have consistently denied being involved in the Italian student’s murder.
Last month, Egyptian authorities claimed that a “gang” specializing in kidnapping and scamming foreigners while posing as policemen was responsible for the murder of the Italian student. Italian investigators rejected the claims, saying there are “inconsistencies” in Egypt’s narrative of the events.