A petition calling on the UK government to take steps to ensure there is a full investigation into the murder of PhD student Giulio Regeni has reached 10,000 signatories, enough to trigger a mandatory response from the authorities.
Mr Regeni’s body – which showed signs of torture – was found half-naked beside a road in the outskirts of Cairo in early February. The University of Cambridge student had been in Egypt since September 2015, researching labour rights as part of his doctoral fieldwork.
In the aftermath of the discovery, Hannah Waddilove, a former colleague of Mr Regeni and a doctoral candidate at the University of Warwick, organised the petition, while more than 4,000 academics signed a letter demanding an investigation.
A press release published on 10 April said that friends and colleagues of Mr Regeni now expected the UK government to “take a strong public position supporting international efforts to find out the truth behind his abduction, torture and murder”.
Anne Alexander, from the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge and one of organisers of the letter, said that the government’s silence over the case was “shocking”.
“It should not take ten thousand signatures on a petition to make the government speak out and add its voice to those who are calling for an independent investigation into his brutal murder,” Dr Alexander said.
“We hear constantly about how UK businesses can benefit from the close ties between the British and Egyptian governments. Yet when a PhD student from Cambridge is tortured and killed, ministers seem reluctant to say anything critical of the Egyptian authorities.
“By contrast, the Italian government has responded to the wave of public anger in Italy and taken a strong line in opposition to the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior’s attempts to bury the truth about who is responsible for Giulio’s murder. It is vital that the UK government now comes out with a clear public statement of intent in relation to this case.”
Paz Zarate, an international law expert and another of Mr Regeni’s former colleagues, said that the government had a “duty to ensure a credible investigation”.