Egypt responds to Italian sanctions over Regeni case

Cairo considers measures in retaliation for Italy's decision to cut military supplies.

The Egyptian government has said it is considering taking reciprocal measures against Italy after Rome halted military sales in protest over the killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in January.

Italy's recent senate vote to stop supplying Egypt with spare parts for F-16 warplanes prompted a strong reaction from Egypt's foreign ministry on 6 July.

In a statement the ministry said the decision would adversely affect “bilateral, regional and international cooperation” between the two countries, which previously enjoyed close diplomatic and trade relations. The retaliatory measures, as yet unspecified, would include a review of Egypt's cooperation with Italy regarding “illegal immigration in the Mediterranean and dealing with the situation in Libya."

This is Italy's first implementation of commercial sanctions against Cairo since the high-profile death of 28-year-old Regeni whose mutilated body was found dumped in a Cairo suburb on 3 February, nine days after he went missing.

Italy accuses Egypt of not doing enough to find those responsible for the murder of Regeni, who was in Egypt conducting research for his doctoral thesis on Egyptian labour rights and underground trade unions.

Human rights groups claim that Regeni’s killing bears the hallmarks of the security services, a charge continuously rejected by Egypt.

Rome has routinely dismissed Cairo's various theories surrounding Regeni's death, and in February the Italian parliamentary committee that oversees the country’s intelligence services (COPASIR) accused Egypt of attempting to cover up the truth.