Egyptian billionaire MP, former policeman to hang for Lebanese pop star's murder

Friday, May 22, 2009

Egyptian businessman Hisham Talaat Moustafa, chairman of the construction and real estate firm Talaat Moustafa Group and a member of parliament for the ruling National Democratic Party, and former policeman Mohseen Al Sukkari have been convicted of murdering Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim.

The prosecution alleged that Mustafa, who had an affair with Tamim, paid Al Sukkari US$2 million to kill her. The woman was found dead in her Dubai apartment last July. Her throat was slit and she had suffered other stab wounds.

Moustafa's lawyer had told reporters that his client was in love with Tamim, but was unable to take her a second wife — a common and legal practise in Egypt — due to objections from his family. The prosecution alleges he had Tamim killed as "means of taking revenge," though exactly what for was not specified.

The pair's defense had been that evidence collected in the United Arab Emirates could have been tampered with and should not be used against them. The case was tried in Cairo due to the fact the arrests occurred in Egypt and took 27 hearings to reach a conviction.

Moustafa was stripped of parliamentary immunity after his September arrest and has been in jail since during his trial. He has stood down from his position within the Talaat Moustafa Group and his brother Tarek Talaat Moustafa now heads the company, which was founded by their father Talaat Moustafa.

The court has given both defendants a death sentence, which usually means hanging under Islamic law. This will now be reviewed by the nation's top religious authority, Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, on June 25. Moustafa is intending to file an appeal, which his lawyer described as having "a one million percent guarantee" of getting the conviction overturned.