Italian court suspends trial of Egyptian official over killing of student

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An Italian judge has suspended the trial of Egyptian official over the killing of student Giulio Regeni in Cairo due to concerns that the defendants might not have been informed they had been charged.

The first hearing in the long-awaited trial against four Egyptian security officers was spent deliberating over whether it was fair for the defendants to be tried in absentia.

“Giulio Regeni, a postgraduate student at Britain’s Cambridge University, disappeared in Cairo in January 2016. His body was found almost a week later and a post-mortem examination showed he had been brutally tortured before his death.”

Italian prosecutors in Rome had urged the court to continue the trial in absentia, arguing that Egyptian authorities had obstructed the investigation into the killing of the 28-year-old postgraduate student in Cairo in 2016 and had prevented Italy from contacting the suspects.

Prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco told the court that, “What is at stake is Italy’s right to hold a trial regarding a very serious crime that might have taken place abroad, but that involved an Italian citizen.”

Judge Antonella Capri ruled in favour of the court-appointed defence lawyers, who had argued that the proceedings were void given that no one had been able to reach the defendants in Egypt.

The prosecution presented the court with a 13-point list of evidence pointing to Egypt’s attempt to undermine the investigation, including how it sought to prevent the suspects from being informed that they had been charged.

The prosecutor said, Egyptian investigators had dragged their feet in the case, ignoring 39 out of 64 separate requests for information, and had handed over material that was often useless, including footage from a metro station that was missing the timeframe during which Regeni had vanished.

“I do not think it was humanly possible to do more, to find the four suspects,” Colaiocco said.

The government said it was joining the proceedings with a civil suit for damages, in a symbolic show of support for the Regeni family.