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Italy to try Egyptian officials again for 2016 torture and death of Italian student Giulio Regeni

ROME — Four high-level Egyptian security officials are going on trial in a Rome court, accused in the 2016 abduction, torture and slaying of an Italian doctoral student in Cairo.

Tuesday’s opening hearing marks the second time the four Egyptians went on trial in absentia: In 2021, a Rome judge halted the trial on the day it opened, arguing there was no certainty that the defendants had been officially informed that they were charged in the death of Giulio Regeni.

In September, Italy’s Constitutional Court ruled that the trial could go ahead even if the four hadn’t received official notification, because Egyptian authorities had refused to provide addresses for them.

Regeni’s body was found on a highway days after he disappeared in the Egyptian capital on Jan. 25, 2016. He was in Cairo to research union activities among street vendors as part of his doctoral thesis.

His mother has said his body was so mutilated by torture that she was only able to recognize the tip of his nose when she viewed it. Human rights activists have said the marks on his body resembled those resulting from widespread torture in Egyptian Security Agency facilities.

The accused are Maj. Sherif Magdy; police Maj. Gen. Tareq Saber, who was a top official at the domestic security agency at the time of Regeni’s abduction; Col. Hesham Helmy, who was serving at a security center in charge of policing the Cairo district where the Italian was living, and Col. Acer Kamal, who headed a police department in charge of street operation and discipline.

Egyptian authorities have alleged that the Cambridge University doctoral student fell victim to ordinary robbers.

The case strained relations between Italy and Egypt, an ally for Rome in efforts to combat terrorism. At one point, Italy withdrew its ambassador to press for Egyptian cooperation in the investigation.

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