Italian student found dead in Cairo with signs of torture

Investigation after body of missing Italian student indicates “slow death”.

Italy and Egypt have launched a joint investigation after the body of missing Italian student Giulio Regeni was found in a west Cairo suburb on 3 February, nine days after he disappeared.

Regeni's semi-naked, partially-burned body showed "signs of torture" including stab wounds and cigarette burns, indicating a "slow death", according to Egyptian prosecutors investigating the case.

The 28-year-old, whose corpse was found in a ditch along the Cairo-Alexandria Road in the 6 October district, went missing in Cairo on 25 January, the fifth anniversary of the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

The timing of his disappearance coincided with the rounding up of numerous activists by Egyptian security forces, keen to avoid demonstrations marking the anniversary of the revolution, however Regeni did not appear to have been among those detained.

When Egyptian authorities initially attempted to suggest Regeni was the “victim of a road accident”, Italy decided to make the story public in a bid to pressurise Egypt into establishing the truth surrounding his death.

The University of Cambridge student had reportedly been conducting research for his doctoral thesis on Egyptian labour rights and underground trade unions and had been in the country since September. His writings appeared under a pseudonym in the left-wing Italian newspaper II Manifesto which published an article on independent Egyptian trade unions, under his real name, on 5 February.

Regeni's murder has strained the normally close diplomatic relations between Italy and Egypt, resulting in an Italian government trade delegation of 60 Italian companies cutting short its visit to Cairo, as well as the Egyptian ambassador being summoned to Italy’s foreign ministry in Rome.

The Italian premier Matteo Renzi has called for Regeni's body to be returned to Italy as soon as possible.