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Tortured body of Italian student found in Cairo

Death of Italian student strains normally close Italo-Egyptian relations.

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has called for the body of missing Italian student Giulio Regeni to be returned to Italy as soon as possible after the 28-year-old's corpse was discovered with “signs of torture” outside Cairo on 3 February.

A joint investigation has been launched by Italy and Egypt into the circumstances surrounding the death of Regeni whose semi-naked, partially-burned body was found with stab wounds and cigarette burns, indicating a "slow death", according to Egyptian prosecutors investigating the case.

Regeni had been in Egypt since September, carrying out research for his doctoral thesis on Egyptian trade unions and workers' rights. The left-wing Italian newspaper II Manifesto said it had published his work under a pseudonym for his own security but on 5 February, after his body had been found, it ran an article on independent Egyptian trade unions, under Regeni's real name.

The normally close diplomatic ties between Italy and Egypt have been strained by Regeni's death, causing Italy to cut short a high-level trade delegation to Cairo and the summoning of the Egyptian ambassador to Italy's foreign affairs ministry at Palazzo della Farnesina in Rome.

Regeni's corpse was found on the roadside in a west Cairo suburb, nine days after he went missing on 25 January, the fifth anniversary of the popular revolution that toppled the nearly three-decade rule of former president Hosni Mubarak.

Although his disappearance coincided with the detention of activists by Egyptian security forces, seeking to avoid anniversary protests, Regeni was not found in any of Cairo's police stations or jails.

Italy made the story public in an effort to pressurise Egypt into establishing the truth

around Regeni's death, after a senior Egyptian investigator suggested that the University of Cambridge student had been involved in a road accident.

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