Italy-Egypt friendship on line as slain student is buried

As Italy prepared to bury Giulio Regeni on Friday, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned Egypt its friendship was on the line over the probe into the student's unexplained death in Cairo.

Italy-Egypt friendship on line as slain student is buried
A tribute in Cairo to murdered student Giulio Regeni. Photo: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP

Renzi said Egypt was cooperating with Rome's demand that Italian investigators be involved in the investigation into the death of the 28-year-old whose torture-scarred body was discovered dumped in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital on February 3rd.

“For the moment, all our requests have been met and above all we have demanded that every element should be put on the table in order that the truth can be established and those really responsible can be detained,” Renzi told Radio Anch'io.

“This has been a tragic event,” he added.

“I extend my condolences to Giulio's family and I say that we have told the Egyptians: friendship is a precious asset but it is only possible on the basis of truth.”

Regeni, a PhD student at Cambridge University, disappeared on January 25th.

Many Italians believe he was abducted and killed by elements of the Egyptian security services, an allegation the authorities in Cairo have rejected as baseless.

According to media reports, the Italian team in Cairo have questioned an Egyptian national who has testified that he saw a foreigner being bundled into a police van close to Regeni's house around the time he disappeared on January 25th.

Regeni's slaying while he was in Cairo doing research for his doctoral thesis has become a cause celebre amongst academics around the world and has turned the spotlight on what rights and opposition groups say are increasing abuses by security services under the military-backed government in Cairo.

Nearly 5,000 university lecturers and researchers have signed a letter accusing Egypt of using torture against its own citizens and demanding an independent probe into Regeni's death.

Flags were flying at half-mast Friday across the region of Friuli Venezia, where Regeni was due to be laid to rest in his home town of Fiumicello.

Dozens of his friends from around the world have made the journey to northeastern Italy to honour his memory with residents of the little town opening their doors to them.

The family has requested the media to allow the funeral to be conducted in private.

The day Regeni went missing was the fifth anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring uprising which led to the overthrow of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubark.

Police had been deployed across the city to prevent demonstrations.

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Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.