Italian authorities move forward in questioning of Cambridge academic over Regeni murder

Image credit: Comune di Milano

It has been reported this evening by The Guardian that Dr Abdelrahman, the Cambridge professor supervising murdered student Giulio Regeni, has agreed to being questioned by Italian authorities concerning the case.

This news follows the development this week by UK officials, who had permitted  Italian investigations permission to question Dr Abdelrahman over the murder of the Italian student. In a statement given on Thursday, Cambridge said: “The University has recently been made aware of a formal request for testimony issued by Italian prosecutors. Both the university and Dr Abdelrahman are cooperating fully.”

Regeni, who was investigating independent trade unions in Egypt under the supervision of Dr Abdelrahman, disappeared in February 2016, with his mutilated body found days later outside Cairo. The prominent case has already caused major controversy, with security services in Egypt admitting they were monitoring the PhD student before his death; raising similarities with the disappearance and torture of hundreds of other individuals in the country as part of government suppression of political opposition.

The Italian Foreign Minister met with Boris Johnson, the UK’s Foreign Minister, on Wednesday, claiming later that the cooperation of both authorities through the British acceptance of “the European investigation warrant” was “a significant advance” in the case. However,  it remains unclear what role Dr Abdelrahman played in Regeni’s project.

A letter from 344 academics from multiple universities published in The Guardian on Sunday expressed disappointment at the recent developments regarding Abdelrahman; particularly with reference to the November article in Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which they claim “suggests Dr Abdelrahman is responsible, alleging she commissioned Giulio to research a topic she knew was dangerous and that he was reluctant to pursue.” The letter also states that “following interviews at Giulio’s funeral in February 2016 and written responses to questions on 15 June 2016, Dr Abdelrahman indicated she would answer any further questions in writing.”

Dr Abdelrahman is a Reader in Development Studies and Middle East Politics, who has worked as an Associate Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo before joining the Centre of Development Studies in 2007. She has also played a role in consultancies for organisations such as UNICEF, OXFAM NOVIB and DANIDA.


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