Italy called Egypt’s decision to clear five police officers in the 2016 murder of Giulio Regeni “unacceptable”, and said Rome would continue to seek justice for the slain graduate student.
“The declarations of the Egyptian public prosecutor’s office are unacceptable,” the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday.
The ministry said it would “continue to work at all levels, including through the European Union, for the truth about Giulio Regeni’s brutal murder to finally emerge”.
“We hope the Egyptian public prosecutor shares this insistence on the truth and will extend all necessary collaboration to the Rome prosecutor’s office.”
Regeni, a 28-year-old postgraduate student at Cambridge University, had been researching Egypt’s independent unions before he went missing in late January 2016.
His body was found in a ditch so badly mutilated that his mother could only identify her son by the tip of his nose.
According to reports, he had sustained a broken neck, wrist, toes, fingers and teeth before his death, while initials were carved into his badly burned and bruised skin.
Earlier this month, Italian authorities said they planned to charge four senior Egyptian security officials with the “aggravated kidnapping” and murder of Regeni.
On Wednesday, Egypt’s public prosecutor Hamada al-Sawy acknowledged that Egyptian security forces had investigated Regeni over “suspicious behaviour”, but said the probe concluded before his death.
Sawy said he had no intention of “pursuing a criminal case in the murder, abduction and torture of Giulio Regeni because the perpetrator is unknown”.
The statement by the public prosecutor suggested that Cairo would not hand over the security officers to Italy to stand trial. Still, Rome is able to try the individuals in absentia.
Arms sales to Egypt
After rising to power in a 2013 military coup against democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has embarked on a brutal crackdown political opposition, jailing more than 60,000 dissidents.
Rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions.
Regeni’s murder had initially rocked Italian-Egyptian diplomatic relations, but in recent years Rome has increased weapons sales to Cairo.
In June, Italy approved the sale of two frigates built by the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. The deal was worth $1.2bn.
The two countries also share ties when it comes to the management of energy resources in the Mediterranean, and Italy is one of Egypt’s top trade partners.