Italian tourism association halts Egypt promotion pending 'clarification' into Regeni death

Published April 3rd, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
The parents of Italian student Giulio Regeni hold a banner reading ''Truth for Giulio Regeni'' during a press conference in Rome March 29, 2016.  (AFP/Andreas Solaro)
The parents of Italian student Giulio Regeni hold a banner reading ''Truth for Giulio Regeni'' during a press conference in Rome March 29, 2016. (AFP/Andreas Solaro)

An Italian tourism association decided on Thursday to suspend all activities, especially the travel programmes, in Egypt until the story behind Guilio Regeni’s death is “clarified”.

Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian Ph.D. student in Cambridge University, disappeared on Jan. 25, marking the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Uprising that led Mubarak to step down after his 30-year rule. Ten days after his disappearance, his deceased body was found alongside Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, bearing signs of torture.

The non-governmental and non-profit Italian Association for Responsible Tourism said in a statement that “Egypt is a wonderful country that offers great cultural attractions”, but a vacation “ is not possible in the context of pain and indignation.”

Last March, Egypt’s interior ministry claimed to have killed a gang of four men, in a shootout, suspected of being behind Regeni’s death.

In a statement, the ministry said that the gang members specialized in “impersonating policemen, kidnapping foreigners and stealing their money”.

Italian investigators however expressed their suspicion over Egypt’s claims and said that the case is “far from closed”, reported Italian news agency ANSA.

Citing the investigators, ANSA pointed to “inconsistencies” in Egypt’s version of the story, as it is “unlikely” for the alleged kidnappers to hold on to evidence condemning them such as Regeni’s passport for so long, and were also “unlikely” to have tortured the Ph.D. student for over a week.

Regeni’s mother, Paola Deffendi, entrusted the Italian government to firmly respond to the death of her son, in case Egypt fails to provide convincing answers, reported ANSA.

She told a press conference at the Senate in Rome on Mar. 29 that the death of Regeni “is not an isolated case” as the Egyptian government says.

Earlier in March, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution condemning the human rights situation in Egypt with particular emphasis on Regeni’s case.

The parliament, accordingly, called for the "suspension of any form of security cooperation and assistance with Egyptian authorities, as long as its security apparatus continues to fuel radicalism and violent extremism through its systematic violations committed in full-impunity."

Egypt however rejected the parliament’s statements and said they are not backed by “any evidence”.

 

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