Enraged Italy demands probe into student’s Egypt slaying

Italy on Thursday angrily demanded that Egypt authorise a joint investigation into the violent death of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge University PhD student who mysteriously disappeared in Cairo last month.

Enraged Italy demands probe into student's Egypt slaying
Italian ambassador to Egypt, Maurizio Massari (3rd R) arrives at a morgue where the body of Italian student Giulio Regeni was brought. Photo: Moham

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Thursday demanded “the truth” from Egypt over the unexplained death of Cambridge University student Giulio Regeni.

Speaking to national broadcaster RAI from London, Gentiloni urged Egypt to allow Italian experts to take part in the investigation into the 28-year-old's death “because we want the truth to come out, every last bit of it.”

“We owe that much to a family that has been stricken in an irreparable way and, at the very least, has the right to know the truth.”

In an incident threatening to badly sour diplomatic relations between the two countries, Regeni's half-naked and badly beaten body was found dumped in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on Wednesday.

The PhD student had suffered cigarette burns to his face and feet and had bruises and other wounds over his body, leaving prosecutors in no doubt that he was murdered.

In Cairo to work on his doctoral thesis, Regeni had disappeared on January 25th after leaving his home to meet a friend downtown.

Italy is one of Egypt's most important trading partners in Europe and the two countries have long had a close relationship.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was the first Western leader to receive the current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after the former army chief's 2013 overthrow of his Islamist predecessor.

The foreign ministry said Italy expected “the maximum cooperation from the Egyptian authorities at every level in light of the exceptional gravity of what happened to our compatriot and the traditional bonds of friendship between the two countries.”

The Egyptian ambassador was also informed that Italy wants its own experts to be fully involved in a joint investigation into what happened.

The ministry said the ambassador, Amr Mostafa Kamal Helmy, had given assurances that the Egyptian authorities would do their utmost to find those responsible for “this criminal act.”

Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi, who was in Cairo when Regeni's body was discovered, cancelled the final day of a trade mission involving some 60 Italian companies in reaction to the news.

Hours earlier she had, according to the Italian media, urged Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to intervene personally in the investigation into Regeni's disappearance, underlining the potential for the case to disrupt normally close diplomatic ties between Rome and Cairo.

Regeni, whose studies included Arabic and Arab literature, was from Fiumicello near Udine in northeastern Italy.

He was in Cairo doing research for his doctoral thesis and was last seen on January 25th when he left his suburban home with the intention of travelling by metro to meet a friend in the city centre.

Cairo was extremely quiet on the day he disappeared as a result of the authorities having ordered a security clampdown on what was the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising which ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign.

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Royal row as body of king who aided Mussolini returns to Italy

The body of Italy's controversial king Victor Emmanuel III returned to Italy on Sunday, amid a row over where the monarch who abetted dictator Benito Mussolini should be buried.

Royal row as body of king who aided Mussolini returns to Italy
This file photo taken on November 1st, 1938 shows Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (R) and King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (L). Photo: France Presse Voir/AFP

Victor Emmanuel, who ruled from 1900 until his abdication on May 9th, 1946, died in exile in Egypt.

Permission for his body to be brought back was granted to the House of Savoy by the president, and his remains were flown in from Egypt on Sunday, historian Aldo Mola told AFP.

The king will be buried in the family's mausoleum, the Sanctuary of Vicoforte in northern Italy, according to Mola, who has helped organise the royal's return.

But his great grandson, feuding with relatives over who is the rightful heir to one of the oldest royal dynasties in the world, says Victor Emmanuel should be buried in the Pantheon in Rome alongside Italy's other kings.

“We had been dreaming this day would go very differently. Justice will only be done when all of our sovereigns buried in exile are laid to rest in the Pantheon,” the self-declared “Prince of Naples” told Il Corriere della Sera daily.

The body of Victor Emmanuel's wife, queen Elena of Montenegro, was brought from France to the Sanctuary on Friday, and her husband is expected to be laid next to her.

“It is by no means a controversial decision. The other kings were only buried in the Pantheon as a temporary resting place, while the Altare della Patria was being designed and built,” Mola said.

The vast white Altare — dubbed the “wedding cake” by tourists — then became the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

'Betrayed the constitution'

Italians voted to abolish the monarchy after World War II, punishing the family for collaborating with fascist Mussolini.

When the Blackshirts marched on Rome in 1922, Victor Emmanuel had not only refused the government request to declare martial law, he then handed over power to Mussolini.

He was later also heavily criticised for signing the 1938 racial laws that harshly discriminated against Jews.

In 1943 he sought to mend the tattered reputation of the monarchy by having Mussolini arrested, but was blamed for taking 40 days to wrangle an armistice with the Allies, giving the invading Germans time to entrench.

He was “a king who betrayed the constitution, accepted fascism, signed laws that suppressed basic freedoms, signed the racial laws, and took Italy into war,” historian Piero Craveri said.

While Italians do not appear to mind the shamed king's remains being returned, historians and editorialists spoke out strongly against the suggestion the royal pair should be housed in the circular former Roman temple.

“It would be simply impossible to bury Victor Emmanuel III at the Pantheon… a place of shared memory for the nation,” historian Gianni Oliva told La Repubblica.

Among those buried under the open-air dome in the Italian capital's historic centre are the painters Raphael and Annibale Carracci, the composer Arcangelo Corelli, and the architect Baldassare Peruzzi.

By Ella Ide