Human rights organisations issue joint statement over torture of political detainees in Egypt

Human rights organisations issued a statement highlighting similar cases of torture in Egypt, coinciding with taking the initial step for the trial of four senior officials of the Egyptian National Security Agency in Rome.

The trial of Egyptian officers in absentia began after they were accused of kidnapping, torturing, and killing Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in February 2016.

On Tuesday, the Italian prosecution asked a judge to refer four senior members of the Egyptian security services to trial on suspicion of their role in the disappearance and murder of Regeni, whose body was found nearly a week after his disappearance. A forensic examination revealed that Regeni was tortured before his death, and Egyptian police and officials deny any involvement in the matter.

Egypt officially closed its investigation into Regeni’s death on 30 November 2020, rejecting the findings of the Italian prosecutors. While the indictment issued by the Prosecutor General in Rome on 10 December 2020 identifies four high-ranking officials, Egypt has refused to hand over the four suspects.

Regeni was researching independent trade unions in Egypt for his PhD thesis. Those close to him say he was also interested in examining the hegemony of the state and the military over the Egyptian economy.

The Geneva-based Community for Justice organisation has released a report about the Regeni murder. The report highlights the number of deaths that the human rights organisation monitored in detention centres in Egypt from June 2013 to October 2020. The total number reached 1,058 deaths, indicating that the number of deaths increased by 100 in 2020, compared to its relative decline in 2019.

According to Ahmed Mefreh, executive director of the human rights organisation, Regeni is not the only foreigner who has fallen victim to the Egyptian authorities. He explained that since January 2016, the French citizen Eric Lange and American citizen James Henry Lawn have been tortured and killed in custody inside Egypt.