Italy weighs warships to Egypt deal after student murder

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy has yet to approve the sale to Egypt of two warships made by shipbuilder Fincantieri, as the government weighs political considerations and analyses the deal, Italy’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Rumours Rome had approved the sale raised criticism in Italy and members of the government have voiced concerns about Egypt’s human rights record, especially after Italian student Giulio Regeni was tortured and murdered in Cairo in 2016.

Answering questions during a parliamentary hearing, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Egypt was an important “political interlocutor in the Mediterranean area”. He also said Rome was waiting for progress in the investigation into Regeni’s murder.

Meanwhile, the government was conducting a technical and legal analysis of the Fincantieri deal, applying national and international rules.

The sale of the two vessels, originally built for the Italian navy, could be worth around 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion), according to press reports.

Fincantieri declined to comment.

($1 = 0.8813 euros)

Reporting by Elisa Anzolin; editing by Barbara Lewis