Egyptian investigators say Giulio Regeni was tortured and killed between 14 and 10 hours before his body was discovered, on Feb. 3 in a Cairo gutter, eight days after he disappeared. Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Hossam Nassar, the deputy public prosecutor, also indicated that the friends of the Cambridge University doctoral candidate may offer clues as to the motivation for his capture and murder.
The idea that Regeni was killed quickly in the hours before he was found contrasts with Egyptian authorities initial reports that he suffered a “slow death.” Asked about the discrepancy, Nassar said only that “this is what the coroner tells us.”
Nassar — the right-hand man of Giza public prosecutor Ahmed Nagy, who first confirmed evidence of torture on Regeni’s body — said it will be important to investigate Regeni’s network of friends, starting with those researching independent Egyptian unions, and especially the tax collectors unions. In Egypt, the military regime might consider a foreigner interested in such topics an enemy of the state. University of Toronto researcher Jean Lachapelle, in an article published by The Washington Post on Tuesday, furthers the hypothesis:
It is possible that Regeni’s research activities were misinterpreted as groundwork for preparing a new uprising. He had built ties with local actors, attended meetings with labor activists and spoke excellent Arabic — an essential skill for a researcher, yet one that unfortunately tends to raise suspicions.