A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Regeni Case Refuses to Go Away

Although Egypt has offered various attempts to explain the disappearance of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, including blaming it on a criminal gang (all conveniently now dead), Italy has remained openly dissatisfied with the explanations, summoning its Ambassador home for consultations and expressing anger when Egypt refused to supply requested information from mobile phone tower data, which  Egypt claims would violate privacy rights. For all its efforts, the suspicions will not go away.

Regeni, of course, is not the only "disappeared" victim found dead in mysterious circumstances, but he s one with a major European trading partner of Egypt pressing his case. Yesterday, Reuters broke a major story citing three intelligence and three police sources:
All six intelligence and police sources told Reuters that Regeni was picked up by plainclothes police near the Gamal Abdel Nasser metro station in Cairo on the evening of Jan. 25. Security had been heightened that day because it was the anniversary of the beginning of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
An Egyptian man was picked up at the same time. Three sources gave his name but Reuters was unable to verify the man's identity. His connection to Regeni, if any, is unclear. 
It is also unclear why the men were picked up, though all the sources said the two had not been specifically targeted but were detained as part of a general security sweep. 
One of the intelligence officials said the two men were taken to the Izbakiya police station, a fortress-like compound located beneath a flyover near downtown Cairo.
"They were transported in a white minibus with police licence plates," he said.

The three police sources said officers on patrol in the area that night confirmed to them that Regeni had been taken to Izbakiya.
"We were told that an Italian was arrested and he was taken to Izbakiya police station," said one of the police officers, who confirmed the detainee was Regeni. 
A senior police official in the Izbakiya station told Reuters that he recalled an Italian being brought in and said he would check the records to confirm the name. He subsequently declined to comment.
"I don't know anything about it," he said. "I checked the books. Regeni's name was not there. 
One of the intelligence sources said that Regeni was held at Izbakiya for 30 minutes before he was transferred to Lazoughli, a state security compound run by Egyptian Homeland Security. 
The sources did not say what happened to the Italian after that. Reuters was unable to obtain information on the whereabouts of the Egyptian.
A few glosses: I assume by Homeland Security Reuters means National Security, the former State Security. Gamal Abdel Nasser station is located near the High Court at Tal‘at Harb Street and 26th of July Streets. Izbakiya refers to the neighborhood also spelled Ezbekiyya.

Now, the US State Department, asked about the Reuters report, called for resolution "through an impartial and a comprehensive inquiry."

The Reuters report, dismissed offhandedly by Egyptian officials, was quickly cited by Egyptian opposition websites and went viral on social media. Th Regeni case will not go away.

No comments: