Italian Delegation Cuts Short Egypt Visit as Student Found Dead

  • `Significant' deals were expected from visit by 60 companies
  • Body of Italian student showed evidence of torture, stabbing

A business delegation from Italy cut short their visit to Egypt after the apparently tortured body of an Italian graduate student was found on the outskirts of Cairo, potentially hurting the Egyptian government’s already troubled efforts to attract investment and revive its ailing economy.

The group of officials from about 60 companies, including aerospace and defense group Finmeccanica SpA and renewable-energy company Enel Green Power SpA, was led by Italian Economic Cooperation Minister Federica Guidi. Most of the delegation left Egypt along with Guidi, a spokesman for the ministry said by phone, asking not to be named in line with official policy. Egypt’s industry ministry had said "significant economic accords" were due to be signed during the visit, without giving details.

The abrupt departure was a blow to Egypt’s government, which has been trying to boost growth following years of political unrest since the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. The current administration has been trying to lure back foreign investors, as it struggles with a foreign currency crunch, and has largely relied on billions of dollars in aid, grants, loans and investments from wealthy Gulf Arab states.

Italy’s foreign ministry summoned Egypt’s ambassador over the death of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni, who had been missing since Jan. 25 -- the anniversary of the uprising that toppled Mubarak. Regeni had apparently been beaten and stabbed, though authorities are still examining his body to determine the cause of death, Ahmed Nagi, an official with the Giza Prosecutor’s office, said by phone.

The incident may exacerbate a steep drop-off in tourism to Egypt, amid suspicions that the Russian jet that crashed in the Sinai in October was brought down by a bomb. Authorities have yet to determine the cause of the crash.

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