A public prosecutor in Rome has placed five Egyptian security officials under investigation over the disappearance of an Italian postgraduate student.
Giulio Regeni, who was studying at Cambridge University, had been doing research for his doctorate in Cairo when he went missing in January 2016.
His mutilated body was discovered nine days later on the city’s outskirts.
The topic he was looking into – independent trade unions – is politically controversial within Egypt.
In January, a prosecutor in Rome said his research was the sole reason for his death, but no one has ever been arrested for it.
Italian investigators have been co-operating with Egyptian authorities on the case, but the two have come into conflict over allegations of police involvement.
Four of the five named are senior members of the National Security Agency – including a general, two colonels and a major.
The two nation’s public prosecutors are believed to have met over the case on Wednesday.
On Sunday Egypt’s State Information Service released a statement saying that “charges should be based on evidence and not suspicions” after Italian prosecutors asked them to approve the naming of the men.
Under Italian law, being put under official investigation is not the same as a charge, but implies those named are suspects.
Italian authorities say they are investigating them over the kidnap of Regeni, but did not name them in connection with the murder itself.
Egypt has made repeated denials of involvement in the case.
Initially they suggested Regeni died in a traffic accident before later blaming a criminal gang, whom they said had been killed in a later shootout.
The claim was later branded “implausible”, amid reports his body showed extensive signs of torture.
Egyptian officials have not immediately issued a response about Tuesday’s development.
Giulio Regeni: Italy names Egyptian police in murdered student case}