DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Let's turn now to a crime that has sparked outrage in Italy. Earlier this month, the body of an Italian student was found outside Cairo, in Egypt. Italians suspect Egyptian security forces were responsible. The funeral is today. Here's NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Twenty-eight-year-old Giulio Regeni was a student from Cambridge University in England. He was doing research on independent trade unions - a touchy topic in Egypt. On January 25, the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ousted the regime of Hosni Mubarak, security in Cairo was intense. That evening, Regeni never showed up for an appointment with a friend. Nine days later, Regeni's body turned up in a ditch with what the Italian ambassador described as unequivocal marks of torture. Marco Travaglio, editor of the daily Il Fatto, points out the contradictory versions offered by Egyptian authorities.
MARCO TRAVAGLIO: (Speaking Italian).
POGGIOLI: The investigating officials near where the body was found says no signs of a crime, but of a car accident. The Cairo prosecutor in charge of the case, Travaglio adds, spoke of knife wounds, cigarette burns, and torture - what he described as a slow death. After Regeni's body was returned to Italy, a second autopsy was carried out. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano was asked what it showed.
ANGELINO ALFANO: (Through interpreter) It was a punch in the stomach - I'm still catching my breath - an inhuman, animal-like, unacceptable violence.
POGGIOLI: Viviana Mazza, who has been reporting on the case from Cairo for the daily Corriere della Sera, says Egyptian authorities reject suggestions that their security services could be responsible.
VIVIANA MAZZA: The Egyptian government has been adamant that it's impossible that this is a case of torture because torture does not exist in Egypt.
POGGIOLI: Reporter Mazza says dozens of Egyptians, many of whom did not know Regeni, gathered for a vigil outside the Italian embassy in Cairo. They told her, Regeni suffered what many of us had suffered.
MAZZA: Giulio is one of us because he died like some Egyptians, unfortunately, are dying nowadays.
POGGIOLI: More than 4,600 academics from across the world signed a letter saying human rights groups have long accused Egypt of practicing torture against Egyptians citizens, similar to what Regeni is said to have suffered. The letter calls for an independent probe into Regeni's death, as well as instances of forced disappearances, torture and deaths in detention. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.
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