That morning of February 7, 2020 Patrick Zaki had just arrived at the Cairo airport. A short vacation to see the family again and then return to his studies at the University of Bologna. Outside his family are waiting for him, they call him on the phone while he is queuing at passport controls, they can’t wait to hug him again. Not gonna happen. Within a few minutes a nightmare begins that has now lasted for a year and a half. Zaki is arrested, he is suspected of “subversive activity” and anti-government for some posts written on Facebook. Eighteen months, without a trial, with the “preventive” imprisonment extended each time by the court of 45 days, without end, in hearings that are repeated identical and that his friends define a “farce”. Amnesty International denounced “the eighteenth month of illegal, arbitrary detention, without trial and without the possibility of defending himself, with accusations, among other things, of terrorism, incitement to violence, based on social posts from an account that his lawyers do not believe is the his”. The mobilization of NGOs continues, as Riccardo Noury, spokesman for Amnesty International Italia, reiterated.
«For our campaign this year and a half has passed quickly, full of mobilizations and initiatives that have tried to keep attention on his situation. But for Patrick, locked up in his cell in the Tora prison, it was a very slow time, full of anguish, physical pain, mental suffering ».
Zaki suffers from asthma and back pain, the super prison is crowded and minimal precautions were taken during the pandemic. It is at risk, especially of a psychological breakdown, holds up with the help of friends and activists, manages to have letters, messages, and finally even the pieces of a chessboard carved by hand from some soap bars. But the more time passes, the harder the struggle. For the activist Amr Abdelwahab the case has become only a “political question: I begin to think and that everything he has done or will no longer count for anything, it all depends on a decision of the Italian and Egyptian governments”. Today the new Italian embassy in Cairo is arriving, Michele Quaroni, with the difficult task of saving the young student.