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CRIME

Italy anger mounts over Cairo student’s torturous death

Italy on Monday warned Egypt it would not allow the fate of Giulio Regeni to be brushed under the carpet as anger mounted over the Cambridge University student's torture and killing in Cairo.

Italy anger mounts over Cairo student's torturous death
Italian student Giulio Regeni was murderd in Cairo last week. Photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP

With the media publishing gruesome details of Regeni's treatment and pointing the finger at Egyptian security services, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was under pressure to authorize a state funeral for the slain 28-year-old.
   
Regeni disappeared on January 25th and was found dead on February 3rd. An Italian autopsy carried out following his corpse's repatriation at the weekend concluded that he was killed by a violent blow to the base of his skull having already suffered multiple fractures all over his body.
   
Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that Egypt appeared to be collaborating with a team of Italian detective and forensic investigators dispatched to Cairo.
   
But he warned: “We will not settle for alleged truths.”
   
Gentiloni, in an interview with daily La Repubblica, added: “We want those really responsible identified and punished on the basis of law.”
   
La Repubblica reported that, as well as being systematically beaten, Regeni had his finger and toe nails pulled out in a pattern of torture which the daily said suggested that his “death squad” killers believed him to be a spy.
   
Regeni was in Egypt working on a doctoral thesis on Egyptian trade unions. It has emerged since his death that he was also writing, under a pseudonym, for a communist Italian daily Il Manifesto, fuelling speculation that links to local opposition figures may have resulted in him being targeted.
   
Italian officials' anger over Regeni's death was exacerbated by their being initially informed the student had been killed in a road accident.

'Punch in the stomach'

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has been particularly outspoken, describing seeing the results of the autopsy as a “punch in the stomach” and Regeni's killers as “inhuman and animalistic.”
   
Alfano said he was in favour of Regeni being given a state funeral later this week.
   
“There is a protocol to be respected and the President of the Council of Ministers (Renzi) decides, but I would say this is about the death of a young man who honoured all of Italy and the idea of a state funeral should be taken very seriously.”
   
Renzi faces a difficult balancing act in handling the fallout from Regeni's death. Too much overt criticism from Rome of the military-backed regime in Cairo could jeopardize the hopes of the murder inquiry ever getting to the truth.
   
Italy also has major business interests in Egypt and will need Cairo's support if a planned Italian-led peacekeeping force is sent into neighbouring Libya to help stabilize the country, if and when a new national unity government is established there.
   
“Egypt is our strategic partner and has a fundamental role in the stabilization of the region,” Gentiloni said.
   
“But here we are confronted with a different problem, the duty of Italy to defend its citizens and to ensure that when they are victims of crime, the guilty are brought to justice.”
   
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has insisted Cairo is committed to finding the killers. “People are jumping to the conclusion that he was interrogated but that has not been proven,” he told Corriere della Sera's Sunday edition.

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MAFIA

Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

In its latest mafia sting, Italian police took down a large 'Ndrangheta ring in southern Calabria, placing 56 people under investigation including a regional councillor and a former head of the regional tourism board.

Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

The early-morning blitz by over 300 police focused on areas of Calabria – Italy’s poorest region – under the control of the Mancuso clan, a powerful branch of the infamous ‘Ndrangheta, many of whose top operatives are among hundreds of defendants in an ongoing ‘maxi-trial’.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

READ ALSO: ‘Ndrangheta: It’s time to bust some myths about the Calabrian mafia

Besides alleged mafia members, the operation also snared businessmen, a regional councillor released from prison days earlier, a former head of the regional tourism board and two civil servants, police said.

The incarcerated boss of the clan, Luigi Mancuso, also known as “The Supreme”, is the biggest mafioso in the massive mafia trial that started in January 2021.

Still, police said, his clan and affiliates, including the La Rosa and Accortini families, have continued to dominate illegal activities in the Vibo Valentia province, which is located right on the toe of Italy’s boot and is widely known as the ‘Coast of the Gods’ due to its stunning coastal views.

One mafia scheme involved the infiltration of a foreign tour operator in Pizzo Calabro, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

No one talks

In Calabria, the extent of the ‘Ndrangheta’s reach in the local economy has made it near impossible to eradicate it.

By controlling the bulk of cocaine flowing into Europe, the ‘Ndrangheta has surpassed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra in power and wealth. It has extended far beyond its rural roots and now operates internationally, with illegal gains reinvested in the legitimate economy.

In the area around Vibo Valentia, extortion of local businesses and the fixing of public tenders is also common.

The allegations against those arrested Thursday include the transport and sale of stolen farm machinery to Malta and Romania, police said.

The sting carried out on Thursday extended to other parts of Calabria, Palermo in Sicily and as far as Rome and Milan, police said.

READ ALSO: Meet Nicola Gratteri, the prosecutor leading Italy’s battle against the mafia

In a press conference, anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, whose efforts to defeat the ‘Ndrangheta have forced him to live under police escort for over 30 years, called the group a “fierce mafia syndicate” controlling areas around the tourist resort of Tropea.

Francesco Messina, who leads Italy’s organised crime investigative unit (DAC), cited the economic power of the clan, which relies locally on “substantial” extortion activity.

The “total absence” of complaints to authorities was striking, Messina said, underscoring the ‘Ndrangheta’s power to intimidate.

By Alexandria Sage

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