It’s time for justice. More than five years after the kidnapping of Giulio Regeni, who disappeared on January 25, 2016, from the streets of Cairo, the four Egyptian agents of the National Security considered by the Rome prosecutor to be responsible to various extents for the aggravated kidnapping, bodily harm (the crime of torture had not yet been established in our legal system at the time of the events) and murder of the researcher from Friuli will be put on trial. On Tuesday, the preliminary hearing judge, Pierluigi Balestrieri, gave the go-ahead for their trial, fixing the first hearing of the trial for October 14.
The judge’s ruling was based substantially on the rejection of the exception raised by the defense attorneys regarding the unavailability and the lack of notification to the four officials of the Cairo security services, whose home addresses have always been shrouded in secrecy, invoked by the Egyptian authorities. But General Tariq Sabir (at the head of the National Security Agency in 2016, now transferred to administrative duties), who is accused of kidnapping together with Colonel Usham Helmi, and Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim (former head of the Judicial Investigation Service in Cairo) and Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif—the latter considered to be the material author of the murder by public prosecutor Colaiocco—have been amply informed on several occasions.
As the prosecutor’s office explained in the statement filed, all the defendants “have certainly had notice of the existence of the Italian criminal proceedings, having been deposed on more than one occasion by the Egyptian judiciary following a rogatory request from our office.” In the end, the magistrate ruled that “the widespread and extraordinary media coverage made the news of the pending trial a known fact.” Therefore, the defendants are committing “voluntary evasion from the process.”
As it has done on every occasion since 2017, the National Federation of the Italian Press continued on Tuesday to act as a “media escort” for Giulio’s parents, Paola Deffendi and Claudio Regeni, with a demonstration in Piazzale Clodio while the preliminary hearing was taking place, attended by the union’s president, Giuseppe Giulietti. It also promoted strong media coverage of the case in both domestic and international newspapers. “As of today, we have the well-founded hope that at least the right to procedural truth will not be violated,” said the family’s lawyer, Alessandra Ballerini. “It took us 64 months. But it is a good milestone and a good starting point.”
However, unfortunately, the procedural truth—as essential as it is—could remain without consequences for those responsible for the murder and those who ordered it. In order to identify the responsibilities and political circumstances of the assassination, the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry has been active since 2019; its activity is classified, and it will only report its findings at the conclusion of its work, on October 3. On Tuesday, its president, Erasmo Palazzotto (LeU), urged the government to support the proceedings, explaining that the “step forward” that has been made is now “a challenge that demands a concrete commitment from the government to obtain respect, truth and justice from Egypt.”