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Italy to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt

IANS | Rome |

Italy has decided to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt, citing progress made in the unsolved case of Italian scholar Giulio Regeni, who was tortured and murdered in Cairo last year.

While the decision sparked protests from the victim’s parents and human rights organisations, lawmakers explained on Tuesday that it was taken due to larger strategy issues in the region — namely the need to work with Libya to stem migrant flows into Italy, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It was a painful decision to make (but) the Libya issue does not allow us not to talk to Egypt,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Pier Ferdinando Casini said.

Regeni’s parents said in a statement on Monday they are “indignant” at Italy’s decision to resume diplomatic relations with Egypt.

However, Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement in which he announced Rome was sending Ambassador Giampaolo Cantini to Cairo that “the Italian government remains committed to shedding light on Giulio (Regeni)’s tragic disappearance.”

Regeni, a Cambridge University doctoral student researching Egyptian labour movements, was abducted on the night of January 25, 2016. The 28-year-old’s burned and mutilated body was found ditched on a road outside the Egyptian capital on the following February 3.

Autopsies carried out by both Egyptian and Italian coroners ascertained he had been tortured for several days before being killed. Egyptian authorities offered a series of unconvincing explanations for the crime, prompting Italy to recall its ambassador for consultations in April last year.

However, Italian news agency ANSA on Monday cited the government as saying Egyptian prosecutors had turned over key evidence in the case, warranting a resumption of diplomatic relations.

The evidence includes transcripts of fresh questioning of the Egyptian police officers who first investigated the Regeni murder.

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni called Regeni’s parents on Monday night, assuring them of Italy’s continued commitment to bringing their son’s murderers to justice, ANSA reported.