CAIRO, Feb 15 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt’s interior ministry denied reports that security personnel arrested Italian student Giulio Regeni before he was found dead on the outskirts of Cairo, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Regeni, a 28-year-old Ph.D. student who was a visiting scholar at the American University in Cairo, disappeared on Jan. 25, on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Uprising that toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Ten days later, his body was found in a ditch along the side of the Cairo-Alexandria desert road, marred by torture marks and bruises in different places, according to Egyptian prosecutors.
The New York Times had reported on Friday that three Egyptian security officials, whom it did not name, “said that Mr. Regeni had been taken into custody by the authorities.” The Independent newspaper said on Saturday that Italian police has a witness who saw Regeni “being stopped” by plainclothes security officers on the evening he disappeared.
But the Egyptian interior ministry’s statement, published on its official facebook page on Monday, said that “some Western newspapers have published completely false news on conditions of his disappearance.”
“The investigation team ... is working extensively in full collaboration with the Italian party,” according to the statement.
On Feb. 5, Italy sent out a team of investigators to collaborate with Egyptian authorities on Regeni’s case.
The Italian student had been in Egypt since September to research trade unions in the country.
On Feb. 4, after Regeni’s body was found, Italy's foreign ministry summoned Egypt’s ambassador to Italy to express "shock" over the “tragic death" of Regeni, the Italian ministry said in an official statement on its website.
On the same day, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered his condolences to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in a phone call, stressing that Egyptian authorities will continue their efforts to unravel the "mystery" behind Regeni’s death, reported state-run MENA news agency.
Italy demanded an immediate joint investigation to be held with the participation of Italian experts and demanded the rapid repatriation of Regeni’s body to Italy.
Local and international human rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern about an increase in reported cases of “enforced disappearance” and torture. The World Report 2016 issued by Human Rights Watch in January said Egyptian police "officers were responsible for dozens of enforced disappearances, often targeting political activists."
According to the UN definition, "enforced disappearance" is a term that applies to "persons who are arrested, detained or abducted against their will ... by officials in different branches or levels of government ... followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law."
But the Egyptian interior ministry has denied, on a number of occasions, the existence of any cases of enforced disappearance or torture.