April 4, 2016 / 4:17 PM / a year ago

Egyptian investigators postpone Rome trip to discuss murder of Italian student: sources

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian officials have postponed a trip to Rome to discuss the investigation into the murder of an Italian student whose body was dumped on the outskirts of Cairo in February, judicial and security sources said on Monday.

Human rights groups have said torture marks on the body of Giulio Regeni, 28, indicated he died at hands of Egyptian security forces, an allegation the Cairo government denies.

The case has raised fresh questions about accusations of police brutality in Egypt, a strategic ally of the West and an important trade partner for Rome.

Egyptian officials were initially due in Italy on Tuesday but have now put it off. They will now make the visit on Thursday and Friday, judicial sources said, giving no reason for the decision. They had earlier told Reuters there was no new date set for the visit.

A senior Egyptian interior ministry official told Reuters the investigation concluded that Regeni - who was researching the rise of independent trade unions in Egypt - was being watched by security services but that it did not mean that they killed him as suspected by human rights groups.

On March 25 Egyptian police said they had discovered Regeni’s bag and passport following a shootout with a criminal gang whose members had posed as policemen.

Italian officials dismissed the story and Regeni’s family said it was clear Regeni had not been killed for criminal gain.

The case has caused friction between Egypt and Italy, though it is unlikely to lead to a permanent rift because of the two countries’ trade ties and Egypt’s strategic role in the Middle East.

On Sunday, Egypt’s mass circulation Al-Ahram newspaper ran a front-page editorial by its chief editor calling on the government to take the case seriously or risk a break in ties with Rome, an unusual move for a state-run publication.

Reporting by Haitham Ahmed and Ahmed Mohamed Hassan; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Michael Georgy/Mark Heinrich

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