Regeni, Egypt shuts lawyers' website as ambassador returns
ROME- Following the decision to reinstate and substitute of the Italian ambassador for Egypt, previously recalled in protest in April 2016, tensions between the two nations over the Giulio Regeni case seem to have diluted. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has justified this decision by stressing the renewed judicial cooperation with Cairo over this delicate case.
And yet, the the immediate effect of this alleged entente has been to engender further attempts to obstruct the course of justice, burying the truth on the death of the Italian researcher. Or at least this is the position of Ahmed Abdallah, president of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedom (ECRF) and legal representative of Regeni’s family in Egypt. According to the humanitarian association, last month’s decision to reinstate the Italian ambassador has been interpreted by the Egyptian regime as the ‘normalisation’ of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
This morning, the ECRF’s website was shut down by the Egyptian government in an attempt to solidify Egyptian-Italian ties by silencing all dissenting voices on the Regeni case in Egypt. ‘’The regime has commenced its retaliation against us’’ said Abdallah, whose association represents over 1,000 Egyptian desaparecidos and their families. The Ministry of Foreign Affair’s decision was also criticised by Amnesty International, which asked the Italian ministry to justify this decision.
The ministry’s claim of renewed cooperation between the two countries appears to lack any substantial evidence. Italian magistrates are scheduled to meet with the Egyptian attorney in Cairo at the end of the month. The meeting was scheduled to discuss the security tapes from the Egyptian train station where Giulio Regeni was last seen. In regards to these tapes, Cairo has not been cooperative in the past, refusing to share them with the Italian authorities for further examination, even rejecting the demand for them to be sent to a German third party to be analysed.
But Egyptian unwillingness to cooperate is not confined to the security tapes. Italian detectives still have not been able to question the three Egyptian army official implicated in Regeni’s disappearance. Nor have they been allowed to question other 7 officials who were investigating and monitoring Regeni’s activities before his death. These officials have been interrogated exclusively by Egyptian investigators, who refused to allow their Italian counterparts to participate in them in the capacity of observers, and merely supplied them with summaries of the exchanges- ANSA claims.
The Regeni family’s indignation for last month’s reintroduction of an Italian ambassador to Egypt, by them described as ‘’a move which feels like an unconditional surrender’’, has been exacerbated by Al Sisi’s government’s actions of this morning. The nexus between the two developments is clear, according to the family. ’’The Italian government has given the Egyptian the unequivocal signal that the Regeni case is over’’, said the family’s representative. ‘’But it’s not over, as we will continue to work for and believe in justice’’, said Abdallah, whose NGO will keep sharing their findings on Facebook and other platforms other than their, now closed, website.