Egyptian tycoon gets another trial in murder of Lebanese pop star
The retrial of Egyptian real estate tycoon Talaat Moustafa began Monday in what many see as a test of Egyptian justice. In the first trial, Moustafa was convicted of paying $2 million to hire an assassin to kill Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim. That verdict was thrown out by a judge recently.
An Egyptian criminal court Monday began to retry a real estate tycoon and a policeman-turned-hitman, both of whom had received the death sentences for allegedly killing a Lebanese pop star. The case has captivated the Arab world and triggered endless conspiracy theories in Egypt.Skip to next paragraph
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Wealthy businessman Hisham Talaat Moustafa, 50, was sentenced to death last May on charges of hiring Mohsen el Sukkary, 41, and paying him $2 million to kill 30-year-old Lebanese diva Suzanne Tamim in the United Arab Emirates.
Tamim rose to stardom in the 1990s after she won the Arab World's equivalent of American Idol. She moved to Cairo and became involved with Moustafa in a love affair, which turned sour after Tamim fled to London and then to the glitzy Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai in the UAE, and found another lover. Dubai police found her in her apartment with her throat slit in July 2008.
"I swear to God I didn't kill her," el Sukkary shouted in a courtroom packed with journalists, lawyers and family members of the defendants. Moustafa also denied the charges.
"My son has been unjustly sitting behind bars for the past two years. But I am optimistic about the retrial," el Sukkary's father, Munir, said outside the court.
Many Egyptians were bitter about the decision to retry the case, taking it as a sign that Moustafa will walk away unscathed as a member of the elite in a country where cronyism is widespread and many people think rules are often bent for the rich and powerful.
The Court of Cassation, Egypt's highest appeals court, granted Moustafa and el Sukkary a new trial on March 4, on the grounds that there'd been procedural errors during the investigation and trial.
"This system is corrupt to the bone," said dentist Sarah Taha, 25, interviewed at a seaside vacation villa. She thought Moustafa's connections would save him from the hangman's noose.
Moustafa is a member of parliament's upper chamber, the Shura council, and a prominent member of the ruling National Democratic Party, headed by Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president. He's also a close ally of Mubarak's son Gamal, who chairs the NDP's powerful policies secretariat.