The team from the office of the Chief Prosecutor of Rome, having arrived in Cambridge on Tuesday, went to work on Wednesday. The first order of business was the questioning of Giulio Regeni’s thesis supervisor, Maha Abdelrahman, by assistant prosecutor Colaiocco, followed by an early morning search of her office and her home, which led to the seizure of documents, computers, phones, USB sticks and hard drives.
It was a surprising turn of events. The professor, considered to be a material witness and not under investigation, finally spoke to the prosecutors after a year and a half of unsuccessful attempts by the latter to arrange an interview. After an initial meeting at Regeni’s funeral in Fiumicello, Abdelrahman, herself an Egyptian and an opponent of the current regime, had denied all requests and refused to meet with the Italians investigators.
Her refusal ended up stirring a hornet’s nest in Italy, with political commentators and members of the government taking advantage of the opportunity to shift the attention of the public from Cairo to London, and to accuse the professor of sympathizing with the Muslim Brotherhood, aiming to make everyone assume there had been some (vague and ill-defined) conspiracy.