‘Regeni’s killer is unknown:’ What happened to the 5 who were killed on this charge?

Some innocent people died in order to get the accusation away from the real killer. This is what happened in Egypt when it dealt with the murder case of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni. After about 50 days of his disappearance, the Ministry of the Interior announced that a gang had been involved in the killing of Regeni, only to discover that they were not related to the matter and that the killer was still unknown to the authorities. At that time, so that there would be no clues through which to weave the true version of what happened, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement that the gang consisted of five individuals, all of whom were killed in an exchange of fire between them and a police force.

Pictures of the resulting exchange of fire spread, showing four blood-soaked bodies piled up in a bus pierced with hundreds of bullets, and a single body surrounded by a red circle lying on the road next to the bus. With the recent developments in the Regeni case, the Egyptian authorities “temporarily” closed the investigation file, in light of the perpetrator of the killing remaining “unknown,” as it described. The Italian prosecution intends to conduct a trial in absentia for five individuals working for the security services in Cairo.

The question seems legitimate about the fate of the five Egyptians, who after years became clear that they were a scapegoat that the Egyptian police killed in order to keep the accusation away from others. Regeni was killed in February 2016, after his disappearance for several days, before his body was found dumped in a desert area in Giza Governorate, bearing signs of torture.

Following the incident, a diplomatic dispute broke out between Cairo and Rome. Italian accusations indicated a few days after the discovery of Regeni’s body that the Egyptian authorities had been involved in the crime. At that time, several records appeared proving that Egyptian security services monitored the Italian student before his disappearance. With Cairo’s attempts to deny the involvement of security officials in the crime, several accounts emerged that exclude the charge from the official authorities, including that Regeni was killed in a car accident. A second story says that the motive behind the crime is sexual. A third account indicated that the victim was seen arguing with a foreigner near the Italian consulate the evening before his death. These accounts did not deceive the Italian investigation authorities, which prompted the security services in Egypt to submit a final account of a criminal formation that they said targeted Regeni to rob him, and that was on March 24, 2016.

In its statement about the neurotic formation, the Ministry of the Interior attached pictures of the Italian student’s belongings that were in his possession before his forever disappearance, such as his mobile phone, sunglasses, his passport, and his university ID card. The statement also mentioned the identity of four members of the alleged gang, all of whom were previously accused in cases of theft and fraud, according to the official version, and their ages range from 26 to 60 years, while the fifth has not been identified. At the time, an official statement claimed that the security services were able to target a gang specialised in impersonating police officers, kidnapping foreigners, and robbing them under duress, and they were liquidated in an exchange of fire.

Rome was not satisfied with the five Egyptians’ blood and considered what Cairo announced regarding the neurotic formation an unbelievable story and a mere cover for the real criminal. Indeed, some political analysts considered that the incident condemns the Egyptian authorities more than it acquits them, given that no one will have Regeni’s personal belongings except for a security authority. Faced with the Italian refusal, Cairo retreated from fabricating the five citizens’ accusation after their killing, and the Egyptian public prosecution was satisfied with counting the crime they committed to stealing Regeni’s belongings.

The Guardian newspaper said in a report published in September 2016 that the group of five people killed by Egyptian security, including a driver, three brothers, and a friend of theirs, had a criminal record. Still, they were not hardened criminals; for example, one of them was imprisoned because he was a drug addict. It explained that the Egyptian citizens were on their way to a house in Cairo to paint it on the day they were killed, but before they got there, the police killed them. With the suspicion surrounding the killing of the five Egyptians, it was natural for all eyes to turn to their families to inquire about the validity of the security services’ claims against the dead.

However, it seems that the way to reach them was blocked by the blackout’s beneficiaries, and what happened to them was wrapped up in what happened to Regeni. There is no trace of the voice of the five families. Still, al-Badeel newspaper published news, in September 2016, about five months after the incident, stating that the families of the victims were determined to sue the police after the Egyptian public prosecution announced their innocence of the charge of killing Regeni. Al-Badil quoted the families of the five dead as saying: “We cannot forget the scenes after they were hideously killed by the police forces,” stressing that the police “did not leave one witness, to tell the truth.” However, it appears that the party benefiting from the blackout stopped the victims’ families from resorting to the legal path, and they did not file a lawsuit regarding their grievances, and some observers believed that the behaviour of the families suggested they were threatened.