As a consequence of the failure of the Italy-Egypt summit, Italian Minister Gentiloni recalled the Italian Ambassador in Cairo to Rome. Whereas the members of the delegation of Egyptian prosecutors and heads of security who partook in the meetings held in the Italian capital on the case concerning Giulio Regeni’s death “refused to release any declarations” about the mission upon their return to Egypt. Airport sources in Cairo report. None of Italy’s requests has been fulfilled: a dossier of about thirty pages, which is totally insufficient, filled with documents that had been already delivered a month ago, and unable to shed light on the grotesque story of how Regeni’s papers were found.
The fact that the Italian Ambassador in Egypt has been recalled to Rome for consultations is the “immediate measure”, the first one, after the failed attempt to enhance investigations so as to clarify Giulio Regeni’s tragic death. “We will be work in the coming days” on the other steps. Foreign Minister Gentiloni, in Tokyo to attend G7 summit in Hiroshima, references to what was recently said in the Parliament: “I always remember the words I used, that is, that we would have taken immediate and proportional measures: that is what we have committed to do and that is what we are going to do.”
The diplomatic crisis opens two days of meetings in Rome, when Italy recalls its ambassador in Cairo Maurizio Massari for consultations. “There is only one thing we want: the truth,” the Prime Minister Renzi and Minister Gentiloni say. “We are saddened”. These are instead the simple words of Paola and Claudio Regeni, Giulio’s parents. Yet, they do not lose hope to find out what happened to their child: “We are confident that our institutions and all those who are fighting this battle of Justice on our side will not stop.” What was already evident at the end of the first day of the meeting – the disappointment and irritation hidden only by the prosecutors’ total silence – has become official after the statement released by the prosecutor’s office in Rome.
A long note in which Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone lists the requests that have not been taken into account by Egypt. However, not all communication channels are closed. The text emphasizes the will of the Egyptian part to pursue, at least formally, “collaboration” through “exchange of investigative measures,” but also the “determination” of both countries “to identify and bring to justice those who are responsible for what happened, whoever they are.” But this is the only opportunity, since the meetings at the Police Academy proved completely useless. The Italian part renewed its requests to receive the promised documentation, whereas Egypt renewed their request for more time, postponing the answers.
The events of the first day of meetings give food for thought: the Italian part had brought to the meeting half a dozen translators, so as to start working immediately on the original documents in Arabic. Yet, when they saw the ”exhaustive dossier” announced by Egypt, they were baffled by these 30 pages, closing the practice in a couple of hours. “There was no need to use all the translators because we had very few documents available, with many of which we were already familiar” the Italian prosecutors say. The prosecutors explained the contents of those thirty pages, “the phone records of the Egyptian utilities used by two Italian friends of Giulio Regeni who were in Cairo last January, the inspection report with the photos of the discovery of Giulio Regeni’s body, a note where it is reported that the organizers of the trade union conference held in Cairo on 11 December 2015, which was attended by Giulio Regeni, indicated that there were no official video recordings of this meeting”.
No recordings of the surveillance cameras of the Dokki area where Giulio disappeared, no printout of the phone records of the ten people close to the researcher indicated by the Italian prosecutors, no full minutes of the autopsy. On the table, the representatives of Egypt have not even put the minutes of the requested evidence, starting from that of the driver who found the body. In particular, an element considered essential by the prosecutors is missing: the printouts of all phones that hook the Dokki cell of January 25 and the cell covering the Cairo-Alexandria highway of February 3.
“In relation to the request to obtain the traffic of cells, presented once again by the prosecutors in Rome – Pignatone writes – the Egyptian judicial authorities announced that it will deliver the results at the end of their investigations, which are still ongoing.” It was a way to take more time. Then, the note adds: “the prosecutor insisted for them to be delivered in a very short time, stressing the importance of such an investigation to be conducted with advanced equipment available in Italy”.
The analysis of these data is crucial to understanding which phones were in the area when Giulio disappeared. Cross-checking them with those present in the area where the body was found, and with those in possession of the prosecution through analysis of Giulio’s computer, prosecutors do not rule out the possibility of being able to identify the track that might lead to the torturers and murderers of the researcher. The other point of total disagreement between the two parts is the story of Regeni’s papers, which “surfaced” after two months in the house of the sister of the alleged leader of a group of kidnappers involved in Giulio’s disappearance. This group can no longer defend itself because all its components were killed in a gun battle with the police.
Egyptian prosecutors told their Italian colleagues “the circumstances through which Giulio Regeni’s papers were found”, adding that “only at the end of the investigation it will be useful to determine the role” this group had in his death. An attempt to take more time and to push the investigation towards the hypothesis of regular criminality, which has been immediately stopped by the prosecutor: “there is no evidence of the criminal gang’s direct involvement in the researcher’s torture and death”. Opposite positions, whereas there is still a long way to go to find out the truth about Giulio Regeni’s death.