ROME — A Rome judge on Tuesday ordered four high-ranking members of Egypt’s security forces to stand trial for the abduction, torture and killing in Cairo of an Italian doctoral student.
Judge Pierluigi Balestrieri set Oct. 14 as the date for the opening of the trial, the LaPresse news agency reported after a closed-door preliminary hearing. It is widely expected that the suspects will be tried in absentia.
In December, Italian prosecutors formally put the four Egyptians under investigation for their alleged roles in the 2016 slaying of Giulio Regeni.
Regeni’s body was found on a highway days after he disappeared in the Egyptian capital on Jan. 25, 2016. He was in Cairo to research union activities among street vendors as part of his doctoral thesis.
His mother has said his body was so mutilated by torture that she was only able to recognize the tip of his nose when she viewed it. Human rights activists have said the marks on his body resembled those resulting from widespread torture in Egyptian facilities.
Egyptian authorities have alleged that the Cambridge University doctoral student fell victim to ordinary robbers.
The case strained relations between Italy and Egypt, an ally for Rome in efforts to combat terrorism. At one point, Italy withdrew its ambassador to press for Egyptian cooperation in the investigation.