Egypt blames gang for Regeni's death

Regeni's passport and other documents, allegedly found in yesterday's police raid

The Egyptian interior ministry claimed yesterday that police had found – and killed – the murderers of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni.

Regeni, 28, who had been researching trade union activism in Egypt, disappeared on January 25. His mutilated body, showing classic signs of torture, was found on a roadside nine days later (see previous blog post). The interior ministry, which many regard as the chief suspect in Regeni’s killing, initially said he had died in a traffic accident.

Yesterday, according to news reports citing official sources, security forces came under fire when they approached a minibus in New Cairo. Police then opened fire, killing all five occupants of the minibus.

Four of those killed were later named by the interior ministry as Tarek Abdel Fattah, 52, his son Saad Abdel Fattah, 26, Mostafa Bakr, 60, and Salah Ali, 40. The fifth person has apparently not been identified.

According to the ministry, an automatic rifle, a gun and an electric shock device and forged police cards were found in the vehicle.

Also according to the ministry, police later raided a flat in Qalyubiya belonging to the sister of Tarek Abdel Fattah where they allegedly found a bag containing Regeni’s wallet, his passport, his student identification cards for Cambridge University and the American University in Cairo, a credit card, two mobile phones, three pairs of sunglasses, EGP 5,000 ($560), plus a woman’s wallet and wristwatch and 15 grams what appeared to be hashish.

Regeni’s belongings were later displayed for photographs on a silver platter at the interior ministry.

Thanks to the ministry’s efforts, the Regeni affair – which has already caused the Sisi regime a good deal of international embarrassment – now has the appearance of a very neat open-and-shut case. How many people will be convinced by that remains to be seen. It’s unfortunate (or convenient, depending on how you look at it) that the suspects can never be put on trial, since they are dead. Maybe the gang were thoroughly incompetent but if they did kill Regeni it’s surprising they retained such incriminating evidence as his passport and that they abducted him on the anniversary of the revolution, when Cairo was swarming with security forces.

There seems to be no dispute that the men killed yesterday were known criminals who sometimes impersonated police officers. Daily News Egypt, citing interior ministry sources, says they are believed to have stolen more than $20,000 from nine Egyptians and two foreigners – an Italian named David K and a Portuguese citizen named Carlos M.

However, the Egyptian Streets website points out that the interior ministry’s a list of crimes attributed to the gang does not include any incidents of abduction, killing, or torture – apart from Regeni.
In other words, what happened to Regeni does not fit the gang’s usual modus operandi. If the interior ministry wants its claims to be believed it will have to come up with some explanation as to why the gang abducted him and tortured him so brutally over a period of days, rather than just robbing him.

Bullet holes in the vehicle allegedly used by the gang

Posted by Brian Whitaker
Friday, 25 March 2016