Surveillance footage handed over to Rome by Egyptian authorities for an investigation into the torture murder of an Italian researcher in Cairo contains “overwritten and unclear material”.
Egyptian judicial sources said that the CCTV footage from the Cairo metro station near where Giulio Regeni disappeared in 2016 was essentially useless, according to Al-Arabi al-Jadeed.
“Cairo first contracted a German company to retrieve the lost data. Then it contracted a Russia company which was able to recover only 1.5 gigabytes of data,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.
He added,”[The recovered data] contains technical gaps in the form of eroded and unclear material.”
In the same context, the New York Times reported that just five percent of the footage from the day Regeni disappeared remain.
“More than two years after the killing, the Egyptians handed over surveillance footage from the subway system where Mr. Regeni is thought to have vanished,” however it reported,”But their chances of success are slim. By the time Egyptian authorities recovered the video, more than a week after it had been requested by the Italians, most of it had been erased, overwritten by later surveillance recordings,” according to the New York Times.
An Italian judicial official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity,”Just 5 percent of the images from the night Mr. Regeni disappeared remain.”
Last week, Egypt ordered authorities to hand over the recorded surveillance footage to Italy more than two years after the killing.
Since the start of the investigation, Egypt has faced accusations that a member of its security services committed the murder, but Cairo has denied the claims.
The Egyptian authorities have narrated several stories about the Italian student murder. First, they claimed he was killed in a traffic accident. Then, they claimed he was kidnapped and murdered by a gang specialized in killing foreigners. Four suspected men were shot dead by the Egyptian security forces.
However, in September 2016, the Egyptian authorities declared officially that Giulio Regeni was held on investigations by Cairo police before his disappearance.
Regeni, a Ph.D. student, went missing in the Egyptian capital on 25 January 2015 – the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising. It is understood that Regeni was arrested while taking the Cairo metro.
The Cambridge graduate was found dead with his body bearing signs of torture, in Cairo in February. The terrible injuries sustained by Giulio Regeni are similar to those suffered by numerous people interrogated by the Egyptian security forces, who are known to surveil and kidnap dissidents and political opponents, including students.
He had been doing postgraduate research on Egyptian trade unions. He was also interested in alternatives to the long-standing domination by the state and the military of Egypt’s economy. Accordingly, there is no doubt that his research study has alarmed Egypt’s homeland security which returned more suspicious and powerful after the military coup led by al-Sisi in 2013.
Regeni’s research study is sensitive because the Egyptian military’s grip on the economy is a subject rarely issued about in a country that has been ruled almost by military men since the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952.
In addition, the independent labor unions have played a major role in the industrial unrest and strikes that paved the road for the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak’s regime, but hopes of 2011 revolution have vanished after the military coup.
Al- Sisi, the former head of the military intelligence and Defense minister – has launched a massive crackdown against freedom of speech, expression, and political participation. The political opposition was imprisoned, protests were banned, and active laborers were arrested.
In fact, since al-Sisi military coup -independent trade unions that have flourished and emerged after 2011 Arab Spring uprising- have been fragmented.
Human Rights Watch, has criticized Sisi’s government, saying it had stopped “dealing with the de-facto independent trade unions, which has led labor activists to fear that labor rights gains since 2011 are facing erosion.”
Human rights groups say that Regeni is among hundreds of people who have disappeared in Egypt over the past years.
Many rights’ reports noted that there is”unprecedented spike” enforced disappearances in Egypt since the military coup, with security services using them as a means to quash dissent.
Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, said, “Enforced disappearance has become a key instrument of state policy in Egypt. Anyone who dares to speak out is at risk.”
UK-based human rights group said abuses had surged since the military coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and led to a massive crackdown on Islamist and secular opposition.