ROME (AP) — The face of an Italian doctoral research student found killed in Cairo was so badly beaten that only the tip of his nose was recognizable, his mother said Tuesday as she and her husband dismissed the latest explanation provided by Egyptian authorities about their son’s death.
Paola Regeni said she saw “all the evil of the world” when looking down at the face of 28-year-old son, Giulio, after his body was flown to Rome in early February.
“In the morgue, I recognized Giulio only by the tip of his nose,” she said. “I won’t tell you what they did to him.”
Speaking to reporters for the first time since their 28-year-old son’s body was found on a Cairo roadside, Paola and her husband, Claudio, said the Egyptian explanation of their son’s death rang hollow.
The couple earlier informed Italian investigators that most of the items that Egypt’s interior ministry claimed belonged to Giulio — such as a red sports bag and sunglasses — and had been found in the house of a gang of robbers weren’t their son’s at all, bar some documents including his passport and student identification card.
At the Senate in Rome following their arrival from their home in northeastern Italy, the couple also pressed the Italian government to step up the pressure on Cairo to solve the young man’s slaying, including, if necessary, declaring Egypt to be an “unsafe” country for Italian tourists.
Sen. Luigi Manconi, who heads the Senate’s human rights commission, urged the Italian government to recall its ambassador to Cairo for “consultations” as a way to step up diplomatic pressure. Premier Matteo Renzi has insisted Italy will settle for nothing less than the truth.
The body of Regeni, who was researching labor unions in Egypt, was found nine days after he disappeared on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian uprising, a day when Egyptian security personnel were out in force in Cairo to discourage protests.
Family lawyer Alessandra Ballerini called Egypt’s explanation that the researcher died at the hands of common criminals a “grotesque” attempt to hide the truth.
Ballerini revealed Tuesday that an Italian autopsy determined he died Feb. 1 or 2 after “protracted torture” and that the Egyptian regime “denies the truth because it’s an uncomfortable truth.”
“They made an Italian disappear, in a place patrolled by hundreds of police on a day that wasn’t any old day,” she said.
Egyptian authorities, who insist they are cooperating fully with their counterparts in Italy, say that four members of a robbery gang were killed last week in a shootout with police. The claim that Giulio was killed by robbers follows an earlier one that he was hit by a car.
Italian prosecutors are still waiting for Egyptian investigators to hand over data from Regeni’s cellphone as well as video from surveillance cameras from the subway station area where he was last seen.
Frances D’Emilio is on twitter at www.twitter/fdemilio