Egyptian tycoon gets death for Lebanese pop singer’s murder

By DPA, Gaea News Network
Thursday, May 21, 2009

CAIRO - A Cairo court Thursday sentenced Egyptian real-estate tycoon and lawmaker Hisham Talaat Mustafa to death by hanging for the July murder of Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim.

The court found that Mustafa, who had been stripped of his parliamentary immunity for the trial, had paid Mohsen al-Sukkari, a former Egyptian security officer, the equivalent of $2 million to murder the singer in her apartment in Dubai last July. The court also sentenced al-Sukkari to death by hanging.

The death sentence must go to Egypt’s mufti, the government’s supreme religious arbiter, for approval before a June 25 sentencing hearing. The convicted men may appeal Thursday’s verdict.

The court erupted in chaos after the judge read his verdict Thursday morning, as family and supporters of the two convicted men shouted and wept in distress. Mustafa and al-Sukkari were quickly removed from the courtroom.

Journalists thronged the courtroom for the session, which concluded a lengthy trial in which the court heard taped conversations between Mustafa and al-Sukkari and watched video surveillance tapes apparently showing al-Sukkari at the singer’s building.

Prosecutors also adduced DNA evidence from bloodstained clothes they said al-Sukkari had left near Tamim’s home.

Defence lawyers called a string of witnesses from Egyptian and Emirati interior ministries, forensic experts, and friends of the slain singer in a trial that stretched over more than two dozen court sessions.

Reporters had been banned from covering the trial after reports of Mustafa’s arrest captivated the region. On Aug 10, authorities confiscated copies of the Egyptian opposition newspaper al-Dustur after the paper reported the accusations against Mustafa.

Tamim, who was 30 years old when she was found stabbed to death in her Dubai apartment July 28, had married Iraqi kick-boxer Riad al-Azawi not long before her death. Prosecutors said that Mustafa, whom they said was Tamim’s ex-lover, contracted al-Sukarri to have her killed out of jealousy.

Mustafa was a member of the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt’s parliament, representing the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), and was widely reputed to have been a close associate of President Hosny Mubarak and his son, Gamal, who chairs the NDP’s Policies Secretariat.

Shares in the Talaat Mustafa group, Egypt’s leading real-estate developer, dropped sharply in early trading on the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange Thursday morning.

Filed under: Gulf-Middle East

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