Italian investigators have received UK permission to question a Cambridge University academic over the high-profile murder of an Italian student in Egypt, Italy’s foreign minister says.
Giulio Regeni’s mutilated body was found dumped in the outskirts of Cairo in February 2016.
He had disappeared days before, while researching independent trade unions.
His supervisor at Cambridge was Dr Maha Abdelrahman. The nature of her role in Regeni’s project is under scrutiny.
Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano met his UK counterpart Boris Johnson on Wednesday, and said later that “the British judge has accepted the European investigation warrant and therefore the Cambridge tutor can be questioned”.
He called it “a significant advance” in the case.
Egypt has denied accusations that the PhD student died in custody. However, officials have admitted that the security services were monitoring him.
President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said “we are working in a very transparent way with the Italian authorities”.
Cambridge University and Cambridge police have not yet responded to a BBC request for comment.
Dr Abdelrahman is an expert on protest movements in Egypt.
Prosecutors quoted by Italy’s Ansa news agency said the Cambridge academic would be questioned next month.
In an open letter published in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday, 344 academics expressed support for Dr Abdelrahman, and said “there is overwhelming evidence that strongly implicates the Egyptian security forces in Giulio’s murder”.
They condemned the way the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported Dr Abdelrahman’s involvement in Regeni’s research.
“Neither Giulio nor Dr Abdelrahman were responsible for his death in any way,” they wrote.
Hundreds of people have disappeared in Egypt – and many have been tortured – in a government crackdown on political opponents.
A lawyer who investigates those disappearances, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, was arrested at Cairo International Airport in September and remains in custody.
He had been due to fly to Geneva for a UN meeting where he was to speak about the Regeni case and others allegedly linked to the Egyptian police crackdown.
Giulio Regeni murder: Italy to quiz Cambridge tutor over Egypt death