Slain Italian student’s body ‘unrecognizable’, says mum

The mother of murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni, tortured to death in Egypt in January, told Italy's parliament on Tuesday she had only recognized 'the tip of her son's nose' when identifying his body.

Slain Italian student's body 'unrecognizable', says mum
Paola Regeni, the mother of murdered student, Giulio. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Amid increasing anger over Cairo's handling of the killing of the 28-year-old Cambridge University graduate student, Egyptian detectives are now expected to hand over key evidence to their Italian counterparts on April 5th.

If Cairo should fail to follow through, “I would urge our foreign ministry to urgently consider recalling our ambassador to Egypt for consultation,” said Luigi Manconi, president of the human rights commission in the Senate.

Italy's Interior Minister Angelino Alfano on Sunday said Egypt agreed to extend the investigation after pressure from Rome, which had objected last week to Cairo insisting it had identified a criminal gang linked to Regeni's murder, after killing four gang members and finding the student's passport in one of the their apartments.

Egyptian police said they believed Regeni had fallen victim to the gang, which had hoped to force him to empty his bank account.

Italian media and Western diplomatic sources in Cairo have voiced suspicions that Egyptian security services were behind the murder of Regeni, whose mutilated body was discovered nine days after he disappeared on January 25th.

“I won't tell you what they had done to him,” said Regeni's mother Paola. “I recognized him just by the tip of his nose. The rest of him was no longer Giulio.”

She said she had taken a photograph of his battered body and was prepared to publish it if Cairo continued to refuse to share the findings of its probe with the Italian police.

“What torments me is the thought that, before the first blow even fell, he knew that a door had closed forever. He had all the intelligence and culture to know what was about to happen to him,” his mother said.

'All the world's ills'

“On Giulio's face I saw all the ills of the world. We have not faced such torture since the anti-Fascist era,” she added.

Regeni had been researching labour movements in Egypt, a sensitive topic, and had written articles critical of the government under a pen name.

Prosecutors in Cairo on Saturday ordered the detention of four people over Regeni's murder, all of them closely related to the leader of the gang who was killed in the shootout with police.

Italy has so far rejected each of the vastly contradictory accounts Egypt has put forward, including allegations early on that the student had been working as a spy – an accusation his mother furiously denied.

The family's lawyer, Alessandra Ballerini, said the investigators from Cairo “must bring us everything that's missing, including the phone records and data collected from the cell sites in the area and the security video footage from near the metro where he disappeared, and the area in which his body was found.”

“We don't even know what Giulio was wearing when his body was discovered,” she said, adding that the family wanted more information as well on the gang which had his passport, and how they could have acquired it.

Manconi said that if the data was not handed over, Italy's foreign ministry “should declare Egypt an unsafe country, which would without a doubt have a not insignificant effect on the numbers of tourists” there.


Fugitive mum whose plight divided Spain turns herself in

The Spanish mother at the heart of a bruising public custody battle turned herself in on Tuesday, the latest chapter in a case that has sparked fierce debate in Spain.

Fugitive mum whose plight divided Spain turns herself in
Juana Rivas outside court in Granada on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Juana Rivas accuses her ex-partner of domestic violence and refuses to let him see their boys, aged 11 and three.   

She had been on the run since rejecting an order to hand her sons over to her Italian ex-partner, Francesco Arcuri, in July.    

Rivas gave herself up at a court in the southern city of Granada on Tuesday, her legal adviser Francisca Granados told reporters.   

She has since been released and a judge allowed the children to remain in Rivas's custody pending her appeal of the order to turn the boys over to Arcuri.

READ MORE: Plight of mother-of-two abuse victim divides Spain

Dozens gathered outside to support Rivas but opinion on social media was deeply divided.

Her return was the top trending topic on Twitter, even as four surviving suspects of an alleged terror cell that unleashed carnage last week in Catalonia faced charges in court.

“What court forces a mother to hand her children to an abuser? We should think about this,” wrote one Twitter user, Ana Garcia @angarfi68.    

Others said she should be jailed for ignoring a court order.    “Is Juana Rivas in jail yet?” wrote another Twitter user Carlos Mas @carlos_fer_mas.

According to the Maracena municipal women's centre which is representing her, Rivas suffered “psychological and physical violence” at the hands of her ex-partner who was found guilty of abusing her in 2009.   

He filed a complaint for child abduction after she took their sons away in May 2016.

A Spanish court ruled the children should return to live with their father in Italy, arguing among other things that the eldest boy was evaluated by psychologists and was all right with seeing his father.   

Rivas told media after her release: “I don't want to be a fugitive, I came to explain my situation and ask for help.”   

In an interview with Italy's Ansa news agency, Arcuri denied any violence.    “I want to be able to hold my children again in my arms, I haven't seen them since last year,” he said.