In response to the Academic Letter, quoted in an article published by The Guardian on 9 February 2016, regarding the death of Italian PhD student Mr. Giulio Regeni, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Ahmed Abu Zeid stated that, while we understand the deep shock and sadness at Regeni’s murder, it was premature and short-sighted to prejudge the results of the official criminal investigation.
He reiterated Egypt’s commitment to a comprehensive and impartial investigation, in full cooperation with the Italian authorities, stressing that prejudging the investigation was in nobody’s interest, least of all the victim and his family. He added that attempts to accuse the Egyptian authorities, in the absence of any proof or evidence, were counter-productive, adding that he was surprised that such unfounded assumptions could emanate from academics, who should be the first to adhere to standards of impartiality, rigour and professionalism.
The Spokesperson also expressed his complete rejection of the statements made in the letter regarding arbitrary arrests, torture and disappearances in Egypt, which completely distorted the situation on the ground and constitute generalizations based on hearsay and intentional distortions by those striving to regain a foothold in Egypt after being rejected by the people. He asserted that the National Council for Human Rights had stated in a series of media reports that the vast majority of purported cases of disappearances had been unfounded after investigation and that authorities were fully cooperating with the Council to review any alleged cases. He also stressed that Egypt’s leadership, at its highest level, has publicly committed to holding any individual perpetrators of torture to account, and that the current period is witnessing a number of important prosecutions of such cases. Egypt does not accept leniency for cases of torture, which remain isolated incidents that are being firmly confronted. In fact, Egypt’s constitution prohibits torture in all its forms and establishes it as a crime with no statute of limitations.
In closing, the Spokesperson expressed his condolences to Mr. Giulio Regeni’s family and loved ones, assuring them that what happened to Mr. Regeni is as unacceptable to the people of Egypt as it is to all those who knew and loved him. It was therefore essential to let the investigation run its course so that the perpetrators of this heinous crime could be brought to justice.