Just a few days ago we watched a video of Giulio Regeni. Beyond the reasons behind its dissemination (the Egyptian prosecutor’s office released it,before the Italians did), the video shows a guy who would have turned 29 years old on Jan. 15, passionate about his work, rigorous, professional, empathetic, human.
The previously unpublished footage surfaced Wednesday, the anniversary of the Tahrir Square riots and exactly one year after Regeni’s abduction a few meters from his home in Cairo after the last telephone contact he had with his friend Gennaro Gervasio at 7:41 p.m. The researcher from Friuli, Italy, found dead on the road to Alexandria on Feb. 3, 2016, is seen in the tape recorded by Mohammed Abdallah, the union representative for Cairene street vendors, with a hidden camera. In the video Abdallah states that he has delivered Regeni to “the Interior” guys.
The prosecutor of Rome, which has been in possession of that long recording (one hour and 55 minutes) since the last meeting with Egyptian investigators held in Rome in early December, has always suspected that the video (shot on Jan. 6, 2016 ) had been filmed with spy cameras provided by the Egyptian police to the leader of the hawkers.
This is another demonstration of the fact that even regarding the duration of investigations conducted by the Cairo prosecution on Regeni (“since Jan. 7, after Abdallah’s information and only for three days,” according to Attorney General Sadek) the whole truth has never revealed.
But Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s judicial authorities has sensitized the public to false leads and lies despite their promises of “cooperation.” So much so that the recent go-ahead of the Egyptian attorney almost sounds like a mockery. He had finally given in — after many rejections — to the request of the Italian magistrates to send Italian investigators to Cairo, together with the experts of a German company specialized in data recovery from surveillance cameras, to analyze the systems of the subway stations of the Dokki area, the neighborhood where Regeni lived and where he spent the anniversary of the fall of Hosni Mubarak (according to the cell phone data) before disappearing.
The false leads began immediately, just hours after the discovery of the horribly mangled body of the researcher, a few hundred meters from a secret service prison. Around the same time, el-Sisi met with the Minister of Productive Activities Federica Guidi, on an official visit to protect the deals of hundreds of Italian companies in the North African country.
The head of Giza police Shalaby immediately blamed the death on a “street accident.” Shalaby is notorious because he was convicted in 2003 for torturing a detainee. From that day on, the “leads” leaked by the Cairo judicial circles and spread by Egyptian media (and others) are exceedingly diverse: a gay sex game that went wrong, the lynching of a pedophile, a random crime, a murder of passion, a settling of scores between drug dealers and junkies (although no traces of drugs were found in Regeni’s body), the elimination of a spy, the result of an internal feud either in a trade union or a leftist movement, the betrayal of an executive at Oxford Analytica, the company to which the researcher lent his collaboration.
They offered everything except “political motivations.” Actually, however, political motives did come out at some point: The government raised the possibility of sabotage by the Muslim Brotherhood. Then, in early March, “a high-ranking source in the Egyptian presidency” tried to pin responsibility for the murder directly on the Islamic State. After all, that would have been a convenient truth for everybody, Italians, Europeans and Egyptians.
And if it were not for the strength and dignity of the Regeni family, for the attention raised by the human rights associations led by Amnesty International, for the hype of the international press and the academic community, and for the strictness of Rome prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone, maybe someone in Italy would have been willing to turn a blind eye and accept el-Sisi’s most likely lead.
But no one took the bait. In fact, the campaign “Truth for Giulio Regeni” has worked to raise awareness every day, with the timely denunciation of the systematic violation of human rights under the regime of the coup general.
On March 24, the most theatrical of false leads was revealed. Five common criminals were killed in a gunfight with the Egyptian police, and in one of their “dens,” photographed on a silver platter, among several other objects that did not belong to him, there was Regeni’s passport, his two university ID cards and ATM cards.
So they tried to close the case by putting all the blame on a “gang specialized in kidnapping foreigners.” The episode only served to reveal to Rome prosecutors the involvement of agents of National Security in the planting of false leads.
“The case will soon come to an end. We are close to a breakthrough,” sources close to el-Sisi said a few weeks ago. And again on Tuesday, the president of the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Commission Ahmed Said, on the sidelines of a hearing at the European Parliament, stated: “I expect announcements soon, in one or two months. We are willing to do everything possible so that the case can be resolved once and for all.”
We’ll see in what way, but the truth is written, unfortunately, on Regeni’s body. “I recognized him only from the tip of his nose,” said his mother Paola Defendi, threatening to publish photos of his face if the Italian government did not push the Cairene authorities. “They used his body as a blackboard,” she reported months later when the Italian authorities released the last autopsy results, which of course did not fit at all with the Egyptian report.
“We have seen and we are seeing all the evil in the world. This evil continues to unfold slowly,” Defendi said Tuesday, commenting on the latest attempts to shift the focus on Abdallah’s role. There is only one truth to keep in mind: Giulio was killed by “expert torturers,” according to the Italian medical examiner. Not exactly the work of street merchants.
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