The signatory organizations express their concern with the recent developments in the Italian court trial for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Giulio Regeni, and firmly demand that the Italian executive takes a credible stand on the case by suspending all police cooperation training programmes which benefit Egyptian police and security forces in light of their institutional responsibility in disrupting the case.
On February 13th, 2023, a new court session was held in Rome in the trial against General Tariq Sabir, Colonels Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim and Hisham Helmi, and Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif in connection to the murder of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni.
The four defendants are facing charges of aggravated kidnapping, while major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif is also accused of participating in grievous physical harm and grievous homicide.
Despite multiple disruptions of the trial over the past year due to the failure of Egyptian authorities to collaborate in the investigation, in Monday's court session the case was adjourned and remanded to a new hearing, scheduled for the 3rd April.
Importantly, head of government Giorgia Meloni and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani have been summoned to testify in court at the next hearing in relation to their recent claims that they are confident Egypt will cooperate on the case.
We note a positive development, in that the Prosecution will now be able to notify the charges even in the absence of a residence address, under the new Law 30 December, 2022, No.199, which reformed the Italian code of criminal procedure by laying out the terms under which charges must be notified to defendants residing abroad. This reform finally closed a problematic loophole in the previous framework, which may have been used by Egyptian authorities to shield the four National Security officers charged with the murder of Giulio Regeni from justice.
In 2020, an Egyptian prosecutor had opened an investigation on the four defendants in relation to the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Regeni; the case was subsequently closed due to a lack of concrete evidence and never arrived before court.
Over the seven years since Regeni's death, the Egyptian authorities systematically refused to lead a transparent investigation into the crime, and failed to cooperate with Italian judicial authorities on the case by providing fabricated evidence and testimonies. More recently, they failed to notify the four defendants of the accusations against them, dragging the court into a stalemate.
Despite the remarkable efforts of the Italian prosecution, the Italian government shares a responsibility in the troubled unfolding of the investigation in the Regeni case, as they have failed to take a credible and firm stance to demand cooperation from Egypt.
Between 2016 and the present, despite growing evidence of the climate of impunity in which Egyptian police and security forces operate, the Italian State Police Department designed and implemented over 26 training courses dedicated to more than 360 Egyptian officers from different corps and divisions, including the National Security Agency, the agency strongly implicated in the murder of Regeni. The courses were hosted at different police facilities in Italy and other partner countries and sponsored mostly through the budget of the Italian Ministry of the Interior.
In addition, throughout the past decade, Italy has provided the Egyptian state security apparatuses and police forces with surveillance technology and paramilitary equipment for a variety of activities, which span from border control to counter-terrorism operations, in spite of the growing outcry from international human rights bodies and civil society denouncing the gravity of police brutality and impunity in Egypt.
In 2018, Italy and Egypt jointly launched the first edition of the International Training at the Egyptian Police Academy - ITEPA I, an international training program on border control and security which Italy funded through its quota of the International Security Fund (ISF 2 - borders and visas) at the cost of € 2,147,042.36.
In light of these activities, the repeated promises made by Italian state representatives, claiming that they have urged the Egyptian government to collaborate on the investigation and that they would hold it accountable for failing to do so, lose all credibility.
We call on the competent Italian prosecution to adopt all the available remedies offered by the law, including the new dispositions contained in the Law of 30 December 2022, No.199 (Cartabia reform), to put an end to the protracted disruption of the trial, so that the court may determine through a fair trial on the responsibility of the four defendants in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Giulio Regeni, in consistency with international and domestic standards on truth-seeking and human rights;
We call on the Italian Ministry of the Interior to immediately suspend all training and cooperation programs which directly or indirectly benefit the Egyptian state security apparatuses and police forces, in light of the regime of impunity and spite for human rights and the rule of law in which they operate consistently.
We call on the Egyptian government to abide by its international obligations in accordance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment signed by Egypt in 1986, and to take serious legislative steps to criminalize all forms of torture, ensuring that perpetrators do not go unpunished. This requires amending article 126 of Egypt's Penal Code 58/1937 on the crime of torture and its remedies to address its legislative deficiencies, as well as the Criminal Procedure Code 150/1950 regarding the right of victims of torture to initiate criminal proceedings against their perpetrators.
We call on the Egyptian executive to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010, which defines appropriate measures to investigate this crime and hold perpetrators accountable.