Egypt Independent

Egypt’s state TV airs video of Regeni’s talk with street vendor



(Clarification: Based on the longer version of the video released by the Italian media later on Monday, changes were made throughout the article to clarify Regeni's stance on the money allocation, which would go towards union activities, not for the union representative's personal needs.)

A short video is circulating on social media on Monday, showing Italian student Giulio Regeni speaking to a representative of Cairo street vendors' union in the time period leading up to his disappearance in January of last year. 

Egypt's state TV aired the three-minute video as a news segment in its 9 pm news bulletin. It later went viral online. The low resolution, dimly lit video is allegedly recorded by the representative of the independent vendors union Mohamed Abdallah. The video shows him persistently asking Regeni for money.

 "My wife has cancer and needs to have surgery. I'll do anything as long as it involves money," he says.

In the video, Regeni says in Arabic, "The money is not mine … I’m an academic researcher; I can’t personally use the money, and if this happened it'd be a very big problem for me as an academic. I cannot tell the institution in Britain in the application that I want to use the money for personal reasons."

The representative of the union then asks Regeni: "Is there no other way to use it personally?"

Regeni, a PhD student at Cambridge University, had been conducting a research on independent trade unions in Egypt. He went missing on the fifth anniversary of Egypt's 25th January Revolution in 2016. Regeni's body was later found in February, in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo, with signs of extensive torture.

The Italian media later on Monday released another version of the video-of the same conversation-which includes segments that were cut and edited in the version aired by Egypt's state TV. This video is four minutes and 29 seconds long.

It is not clear where, when or how the video was shot.

In the video, Regeni explains to the union representative, that he is a foreigner who is conducting research in Egypt and that the issue of the money is "beyond his personal scope."

"What can I do, should I just write an email saying we need the money now because January 25 is in two weeks?" says Regeni.

"Will it be possible?" the union representative asks; and Regeni replies that it would be unprofessional for him as an academic.

"The money can not come from [himself]. The money comes from the British to the Egyptian center and then goes to the vendors," Regeni explained.

"Are we going to use the money in projects for kiosks for street vendors, or are we going to use it for freedom projects," the representative of the independent vendors union asks.

 “If we have an idea and we want to get money for it, there will be very big projects from all around the world to support. I am not sure of anything yet, until we have a tangible idea. We need information,” Regeni says, explaining that  the funds he is referring to will eventually be allocated to union activities and not for personal use.

In the video, Regeni was looking for answers regarding the importance of trade and labor unions to workers; what would the labor benefit from joining a union; and what the requirements for entry can be.

Egypt's public prosecutor agreed on Sunday to allow experts from Italy, plus a German company that specializes in salvaging CCTV footage, to examine cameras in Cairo as part of the investigation into Regeni’s murder last year.

A statement from the prosecutor said that the experts would examine recordings made by the closed-circuit television camera at the metro station in the Cairo neighbourhood of Dokki, where Regeni lived, to find "facts related to the incident and its perpetrators."

Egyptian Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek in December met with Italian prosecutors for two days of talks and handed over documents requested by Italy in September.

Among the documents was the transcript of testimony given by the head of the Cairo street vendors' union, who had raised concerns with police over Regeni. Egypt has said that police carried out checks on Regeni's activities after being contacted by the union official, but found nothing of interest.

Egypt has rejected criticism from human rights groups that Egyptian security services appeared accountable for the 28-year-old's death. Meanwhile, Italy has constantly complained about the slow progress of the investigation, culminating in April with Italy withdrawing its ambassador from Cairo in protest.