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Open letter of protest over the death of Giulio Regeni

Open letter of protest over the death of Giulio Regeni, forced disappearances and torture in Egypt

Open letter to Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi

To be offered to The Guardian and the Italian media for publication and sent to the Egyptian authorities via the embassies in London and Rome.

As members of the wider academic community of which Giulio Regeni was a part, we were deeply saddened to learn of his death. Our community has been enriched by his presence. We are diminished by the loss of a young researcher whose work tackled questions which are vitally important to our understanding of contemporary Egyptian society. Our thoughts go out first of all to his family and friends at this acutely painful moment.

We are appalled to hear prosecutors in Egypt report that there were extensive signs of torture on his body. Those of us who knew of Giulio’s disappearance before the discovery of his body were desperately concerned for his safety because he vanished in the midst of a security campaign which has resulted in mass arbitrary arrests, a dramatic increase in reports of torture within police stations, and other cases of disappearances, according to documentation by local and international human rights organisations. While we welcome the statement by Egyptian Ambassador to Italy, Amr Helmy, that the Egyptian authorities will fully investigate Giulio’s death, we note that according to Amnesty International, bodies reporting to the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior and the Egyptian Ministry of Defence routinely practice the same kinds of torture that Giulio is reported to have suffered against hundreds of Egyptian citizens each year.

We therefore call on the Egyptian authorities to cooperate with an independent and impartial investigation into all instances of forced disappearances, cases of torture and deaths in detention during January and February 2016, alongside any ongoing investigations by criminal prosecutors into Giulio’s death, in order that those responsible for these crimes can be identified and brought to justice.

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