On Thursday, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico, announced the suspension of all diplomatic relations between the Italian Parliament and the Egyptian Parliament until there is a significant development in the investigation of the murder of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni. He also called the addition by the Rome Prosecutor’s Office of the names of seven agents of the Egyptian intelligence services to the list of suspects to be investigated a “courageous act.”
The suspension of diplomatic relations is a symbolic gesture. However, after too many lies and the silence of three successive governments, both Matteo Renzi’s and Paolo Gentiloni’s Democratic governments and the current yellow-green one led by Giuseppe Conte—who, unsurprisingly, said he was disappointed by Fico’s brave decision—this development looks like it really might be a break with the past and a radical turn toward truth.
With this decision, Fico has kept the solemn promise he made to the Regeni family, while no result at all had arrived—and still has not arrived—from those in the seats of power. It’s well past time to stop the hypocrisy, particularly on the part of those who write for the newspapers and keep covering up the fact that Renzi was a contributor to the recognition of el-Sisi’s coup, granting him the role of an important interlocutor for Italian foreign policy—which he still is under the “new” government of the twin populisms (the M5S’s vigilante one and Salvini’s racist one).
Despite Luigi Di Maio’s promises in Cairo, the current government continues to consider el-Sisi’s regime as a main player with regard to the crisis in Libya, the energy strategy and the plentiful market awaiting our many millions of euros of arms exports. It is a regime responsible for the death of the Italian researcher, just like it is responsible for the deaths of thousands of members of the Egyptian opposition—and yet one whose leader has the gall to say that Regeni is “one of us.”
Almost three years after Regeni’s assassination, no truth has yet come out of Egypt. By now, the Rome prosecutor, Sergio Colaiocco, has seen for himself that the much-vaunted “willingness to cooperate” of the Egyptian judicial authorities is nothing but empty words: no evidence has been delivered to the Italian side, and even the long-awaited surveillance videos appear to be fake. Thus, Italy will add the first seven names to the suspects of the crime.
Clearly, these were among the low-level executioners of the kidnapping, torture and murder, not the people who likely ordered it, such as Minister of the Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar; Major General Khaled Shalaby, the chief torturer at Giza; General Mahmoud Hegazy of counterintelligence; or, at the very top, President el-Sisi. The naming of the suspects is also a “symbolic” gesture, but one which can show that those responsible for the killing can be traced through the ranks, from the enforcers all the way to the top of the pyramid.