Body of Cambridge PhD student found in Egypt

Egyptian official says Giulio Regeni’s body bore signs of torture

February 5, 2016
Cairo, Egypt
Source: iStock

The body of a University of Cambridge PhD student who disappeared last week in Cairo has been found and shows signs of torture and a “slow death”, according to a senior Egyptian prosecutor.

Italian student Giulio Regeni disappeared on the evening of 25 January, the fifth anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt. His body was found half-naked beside a road in Cairo’s western outskirts on 3 February, according to the BBC.

Senior prosecutor Ahmad Nagi said that the cause of death had yet to be determined but Mr Regeni’s body had bruises, knife wounds and cigarette burns. He added that the injuries covered “all of his body, including the face” and he appeared to have suffered a “slow death”.

Earlier, another Egyptian official suggested that Mr Regeni might have died in a road accident.

The statements from Mr Nagi came after the Italian government summoned the Egyptian ambassador and urged Cairo to launch a joint investigation to ascertain what had happened to Mr Regeni.

Mr Regeni was a student at Cambridge’s Girton College and was attached to the university’s department of politics and international studies. He had been living in Cairo since September, carrying out research on labour rights while a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Amy Austin Holmes, head of the sociology department at the AUC, told the BBC: “It has become increasingly difficult and dangerous to conduct research.” She said that she knew of researchers who had been denied entry to Egypt or arrested.

Meanwhile, Maha Abdelrahman, reader in development studies and Middle East politics at Cambridge, and Anne Alexander, co-ordinator of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network, have written an open letter calling on Egyptian authorities to “cooperate with an independent and impartial investigation into all instances of forced disappearances, cases of torture and deaths in detention during January and February 2016” so that “those responsible for these crimes can be identified and brought to justice”.

 “We are diminished by the loss of a young researcher whose work tackled questions which are vitally important to our understanding of contemporary Egyptian society,” they wrote.

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