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Egypt police kill members of gang linked to Regeni murder

Egyptian police said on Thursday they had identified people linked to the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni, after killing four members of a criminal gang and finding the victim's passport at one of their apartments.

Egypt police kill members of gang linked to Regeni murder
People hold an Italian flag with photos of Giulio Regeni, who was found dead bearing signs of torture after disappearing in Cairo in January. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The interior ministry said in a statement that it has shared its findings with Italy, which was helping investigate the abduction and murder of the Cambridge University graduate whose mutilated body was found in Cairo in January.

The ministry also released photographs of Regeni's passport, university identification cards and a wallet.

The manner of Regeni's abduction and killing provoked accusations in Italy of Egyptian police involvement, something Cairo had strongly denied.

Regeni, 28, had been researching labour movements in Egypt, a sensitive topic, and had written articles critical of the government under a pen name.

The incident threatened relations between Egypt and Italy, a strong supporter of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi whose security services have been accused of abusing dissidents.

The ministry had announced earlier on Thursday that police had killed four members of a criminal gang that had kidnapped and robbed foreigners in Cairo in a shootout, without mentioning Regeni.

A later statement said they found the men, who were posing as police, inside a van and exchanged gunfire with them, killing them all.

“When they saw the police they fired at them. The police returned fire, resulting in their deaths,” the interior ministry said.

Police then tracked down Regeni's belongings at the home of one of the gang members' sister.

“Italian security has been has been notified about the results,” the statement said.

Passport, wallet

After Regeni's body was found, activists in Egypt and the Italian press initially pointed a finger at the Egyptian security services, which deny allegations by rights groups that they abduct and abuse dissidents.

Regeni had gone missing on the evening of January 25th, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Police were out in force that day to prevent protests, and Regeni was last heard from as he walked to a metro station to meet a friend.

The interior ministry had said they believed criminals were behind Regeni's abduction and his brutal killing.

His body was found a week later at the side of a road on Cairo's outskirts, bearing the signs of brutal torture.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper this month, Sisi promised to “do everything” to find Regeni's killers.

“I promise you that we will do everything to shed light (on the case) and we will get to the truth,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.

The statement on Thursday said an unidentified corpse with a gunshot wound was found in the gang's van, along with an assault rifle, an electric prod and fake police identification.

The gang had been responsible for at least nine robberies, including one involving another Italian, according to the ministry.

Their investigation led them to the apartment of one of the slain suspects' sister, where they found a leather bag that contained Regeni's passport wallet, the statement added.

The suspect's wife was also arrested at the apartment and said the bag belonged to her husband.

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BOLOGNA

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.

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