An Italian student who went missing in Cairo has died and an investigation has been launched into signs of torture on his body, which was found dumped next to an Egyptian road, security officials said on Thursday.
Cambridge University student Giulio Regeni, 28, disappeared on Jan. 25, the five-year anniversary of the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. His body has been taken to a Cairo morgue, a morgue worker and security officials said.
In the run-up to the anniversary, police detained activists and warned people not to demonstrate. No significant protests took place.
A friend of Regeni said he disappeared after leaving his home in an upper middle-class district in Cairo to meet a friend downtown.
Last year, Islamic State militants kidnapped a Croatian man from the outskirts of Cairo and later beheaded him, but such incidents are rare and there was a heavy police presence in downtown Cairo when Regeni went missing.
Although the cause of death is still unclear, Regeni's case could hurt Egypt's efforts to project an image of stability and attract more tourism and foreign investment after years of political turmoil and Islamist militant violence.
‘An investigation into signs of torture on the body is under way,’ one of the security officials told Reuters. ‘He was found on the side of a road.’
A source in the office of the Public Prosecutor said prosecutors had inspected the body and found stab marks on Regeni's shoulders and cuts on his ear and nose.
Regeni was found semi-naked at the start of the highway from Cairo to Alexandria, the source said.
Italian Industry Minister Federica Guidi cut short a two-day visit to Egypt on Wednesday night after Regeni's death was reported. On behalf of the Italian government, Guidi asked Egypt to investigate his death before her return to Rome, her ministry's press office said.
A copy of Regeni's CV, provided by another friend, indicated he spoke four languages and had won several scholarships. His research focused on trade unions in Egypt after the 2011 uprising that ended President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.
Human rights groups say Egyptians are often detained by police on little evidence and beaten or coerced. Scores have disappeared since 2013. Egypt denies allegations of police brutality.
Islamist militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since the army toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.
Militants have also targeted foreigners. A Russian passenger plane crashed in the Sinai in late October, killing all 224 people on board. Islamic State said it planted a bomb on board.
So far, Egypt has publicly said it has found no evidence that the MetroJet flight was brought down by terrorism.
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