The body of a missing Italian student was found with signs of torture, including multiple stab wounds and cigarette burns, by the side of a highway on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital, an investigating prosecutor told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Giulio Regeni, A 28-year-old graduate student, went missing in Cairo on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of the uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
His body was found Wednesday along the Cairo-Alexandria Road in the 6 October suburb in western Cairo and was positively identified by his roommate, said the prosecutor, Ahmed Nagi, who leads the investigation team on the case.
Nagi said the cause of death was still under investigation but said “all of his body, including his face” had bruises, cuts from stabbings and burns from cigarettes. He said it appeared to have been a “slow death.”
Another person with knowledge of the case told the AP that the body was “partially burned” and also said his body was found on the same highway. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. An employee at Cairo's central morgue confirmed that Regeni's body was brought there.
Italy's Foreign Ministry said it has urgently summoned the Egyptian ambassador over the death of an Italian student on the outskirts of Cairo, seeking maximum cooperation in the investigation. The ministry said in a statement on Thursday that Italy renewed its request to launch an immediate investigation and include Italian experts. The statement also requested that the body be returned to Italy as soon as possible.
The deputy head of criminal investigations in Cairo's twin province of Giza, Alaa Azmi, said Regeni's body found on Wednesday morning with “bruises and cuts.”
An initial investigation showed it was a road accident, he said, adding that the preliminary forensic report hadn't mentioned any burns.
“We have to wait for the full report by forensic experts. But what we know is that it is an accident,” Azmi said.
The University of Cambridge lists Regeni as a student of its Department of Politics and International Studies. Regeni's body was found following an online campaign searching for him after he went missing.
The Egyptian authorities had intensified a crackdown on dissent ahead of the Jan. 25 anniversary, with police raiding apartments in downtown Cairo seeking signs of plans for organized protests and checking people's social media accounts.
Egypt has seen years of upheaval since Mubarak's ouster in 2011, ending with the election of former Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as president in 2014, after he led a 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi amid massive protests against his rule.
Following Morsi's ouster, el-Sissi launched one of the harshest crackdowns in years, jailing of thousands of Islamists and scores of liberal, pro-democracy activists.
In addition, Egypt has been battling a local Islamic State affiliate in the northern Sinai Peninsula, where Islamic militants stepped up attacks on security forces after the military ousted Morsi in 2013.
While mainly contained in northern Sinai, militants have carried out a series of attacks in more central parts of the country, including the bombing of the Italian Consulate in Cairo and the kidnapping and beheading of a Croatian oil surveyor who was working in the capital in August last year. (AP)