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Egypt rejects EU's 'undocumented' claims of human rights abuse

MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution condemning Regeni's murder [AFP]

Date of publication: 13 March, 2016

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Egypt has rejected a European Parliament resolution condemning the torture and assassination of Giulio Regeni and calling authorities to enable a swift, transparent and impartial joint investigation into the case.
Egypt's foreign ministry has rejected a European Parliament resolution that criticised the human rights situation in the country, based on the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni.

"It is unfortunate that ancient legislative institutions such as the European Parliament deal with accusations from undocumented media reports concerning Regeni's murder as evidence to build resolutions upon," ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement on Friday.

"Involving Regeni's case in a resolution that tackles the human rights records in Egypt is unacceptable, especially as investigations are still being conducted by Egyptian authorities in cooperation with their Italian counterparts."

Abu Zeid added that he hoped the resolution would "support Egypt's efforts in the fight against terrorism" and "reaffirm Egyptian-European relations and economic partnership" instead of "undermining" their relationship.

"The Egyptian government respects and considers human rights values, and torture is a crime stated in Egypt's constitution," he said.

On Thursday, MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution saying that the parliament in Strasbourg, France, "strongly condemns the torture and assassination under suspicious circumstances of EU citizen Giulio Regeni". 

There were 588 votes for the resolution, 10 against and 59 abstentions.

The resolution called on the Egyptian authorities to "provide the Italian authorities with all the documents and information necessary to enable a swift, transparent and impartial joint investigation into the case of Mr Regeni".

It also urged Egyptian authorities to make "every effort" to bring Regeni's killers to justice.

But MEPs also noted "with grave concern that the case of Giulio Regeni is not an isolated incident, but that it occurred within a context of torture, death in custody and enforced disappearances across Egypt in recent years".

It is unfortunate that ancient legislative institutions such as the European Parliament deal with accusations from undocumented media reports concerning Regeni's murder as evidence to build resolutions upon
- Ahmed Abu Zeid

The European Parliament further urged the EU's 28 member states to stick to the bloc's rules on the export of military technology and surveillance equipment to Egypt.

The rules were adopted in 2013 after the ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by then-army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Regeni's corpse was found bearing torture marks more than a week after he went missing in downtown Cairo on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

Autopsy reports have shown that Regeni's body had seven broken ribs, signs of electric shock on his penis, traumatic injuries all over his body, and a brain hemorrhage.

His body also bore signs of cuts from a sharp instrument suspected to be a razor, as well as abrasions and bruises.

The 28-year-old PhD student, who was in Cairo researching for his Cambridge University doctoral thesis on trade unions in Egypt, had written articles critical of the Egyptian government, said the Italian newspaper that published them.

His death has chilled relations between Rome and Cairo, with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi last month warning Egypt its friendship was on the line over the investigation.

Regeni's murder has also become a cause celebre amongst academics around the world and has turned the spotlight on what rights and opposition groups say are increasing abuses by security services under the military-backed government in Cairo.

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