This time, it really seemed that the umpteenth hearing to extend or end the pre-trial detention could have had a different ending.
Zaki’s lawyer, Hoda Nasrallah, had brought a little bit of light in the hearts of the many who have been following Patrick Zaki’s story since Feb. 7.
She had simply said: “I hope he is freed.” No details, but it was enough to start imagining a happy ending. Instead, that was not to be: the detention of the Egyptian student of the University of Bologna will continue.
Another 45 days. An eternity, without official accusations and without a trial: this is the effective strategy that the al-Sisi regime has chosen against its real and presumed opponents, activists and journalists. In prison for months, often years, for a fixed time of 15 or 45 days but renewed without interruption until it becomes indeterminate, forcing one to live (or rather barely survive) from week to week.
Wednesday’s hearing also has another meaning: it comes exactly eight months after Zaki’s arrest at the Cairo airport, the first of the deceptions perpetrated by the Egyptian authorities.
On Friday, in Rome, Turin and Milan, Amnesty International will be in the streets for Patrick. On Thursday, at ANSA, Riccardo Noury, spokesman for Amnesty Italy, gave voice to the exasperation for the lack of intervention of the Italian institutions: “We really need a serious commitment of the Italian government, which can get Patrick out of this nightmare: it is unimaginable that this mechanism of postponement of release can continue, on account of some alleged additional investigations, not based on anything.”
An identical appeal was made by the mayor of Bologna, Virginio Merola, the city where Patrick was studying: “Let’s increase democratic pressure,” he wrote on Facebook. “The government should ask for the respect of human rights as a condition of bilateral relations with Egypt.”
The pressures, however, are not there, as they are also absent regarding the investigation into the murder of Giulio Regeni. Since 2016, military and civilian business has been more important. This fact was highlighted at the end of September by the Egyptian ambassador in Rome, speaking about the new Eastmed energy project that will also involve Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority: “Egypt has supported Italy’s request to include three major Italian companies in the sector advisory committee of the forum: ENI, SNAM and SAIPEM.”