Italy prosecutors seek trial for Egyptians over student murder

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Rome (AFP)

Prosecutors in Rome on Wednesday formally requested a trial for four Egyptian security officers for the brutal killing five years ago of Giulio Regeni, an Italian student in Cairo.

The Egyptians are accused of kidnapping, conspiracy to murder and grievous bodily harm, Italian news agencies reported, citing a statement from the prosecutors' office.

Regeni was a Cambridge University graduate who was researching Egyptian trade unions. He was abducted in January 2016 and his mutilated body later found on the outskirts of Cairo.

His death sparked outrage in Italy and severely strained diplomatic relations with Egypt.

The incident also revived international criticism of the human rights record of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The four suspects were named as General Tarig Sabir, Colonels Athar Kamel Mohamed Ibrahim and Uhsam Helmi, and Major Magdi Ibrahim Abdelal Sharif, who is accused of actually carrying out the killing.

For a trial to go ahead, a judge would have to approve the prosecutors' request. The four men would then likely be tried in absentia, unless Egypt agrees to extradite them.

Italian investigators, who have heard testimonies from former Egyptian security officials, believe Regeni was abducted and killed after being mistaken for a foreign spy.

On December 10, prosecutor Michele Prestipino told a parliamentary committee there were "elements of significant proof" implicating Egyptian officers in the murder.