Italy calls on Egypt to release young researcher

ROME: Italy on Sunday (Feb 9) called on Egypt to release a young Egyptian researcher and activist based at Bologna University, saying it had reason to believe the security forces had tortured him.

The incident has revived painful memories of the 2016 disappearance and murder of an Italian researcher in Cairo, a case for which which the Italian authorities are still seeking answers.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Patrick Zaky, 27, a graduate student at Bologna University in northern Italy, was detained late on Friday as he arrived to visit his family.

He was held on a warrant issued in September after he left to pursue his studies, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a prominent rights organisation where he is a researcher.

They said he had been charged with "harming national security" and "broadcasting false news" – and that he had been beaten and electrocuted by security forces.

In a statement on Sunday (Feb 9), Peppe De Christofaro, Under-Secretary for Education, expressed "great concern" for Zaky.

Advertisement

Advertisement

He had a "well-founded fear that the young Egyptian researcher … is currently suffering arbitrary and unjustified detention and that he is a new victim of violence and abuse from the Egyptian security forces", he said.

He called for other European Union states to join Italy in pressing Egypt to release him.

Everything had to be done to protect Zaky's safety and "avoid a repetition of unacceptable scenes of torture", he said.

THE REGENI AFFAIR

Italy's reaction is in part informed by the January 2016 disappearance of 28-year-old Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni in Cairo, where he was carrying out research on Egyptian trades unions.

His badly mutilated body was found in a suburb of the city a few days later, bearing the marks of torture.

Bologna University, where Zaky received a grant to study for a Masters degree, has already set up a crisis cell to help him. Students there are preparing a demonstration for Sunday evening to call for his release.

"We won't allow another Regeni case," organisers told Italian news agency Ansa. "We won't leave Patrick alone."

Last month, rights group Amnesty International organised a demonstration in the northern city of Turin to mark the fourth anniversary of ReRead More – Source