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Middle East

Court orders retrial for tycoon convicted of Lebanese diva murder


Latest update : 2010-03-04

An Egyptian court has overturned the conviction of magnate Hisham Mustafa (left), who was sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-lover, Suzanne Tamim (right). A former policeman, accused of killing Tamim in Dubai, will also be retried.

AFP - An Egyptian appeals court on Thursday overturned the convictions of a leading ruling party member and a former policeman sentenced to death for the murder of a Lebanese pop diva.

The cassation court ordered a retrial for ruling party member Hisham Talaat Mustafa and Mohsen al-Sukkari, the ex-policeman, who had both been convicted by a lower court last May of singer Suzanne Tamim's murder and sentenced to hang.

The court did not give its reasons for the ruling, which caused jubilation among the families of the two men, who are to remain behind bars pending the retrial.

Mustafa, a real estate magnate, was accused of paying Sukkari two million dollars to cut the throat of his one-time lover in July 2008 in a luxury Dubai apartment which she had bought months before the murder.

The case with its mix of wealth, show business and politics has gripped Egypt, where powerful businessmen are rarely seen to face justice.

At the time of the lower court ruling in May, Abdel Sattar Tamim, the slain singer's father, told AFP in Beirut that the family was satisfied with the verdict and was awaiting the approval of Egypt's mufti, or Sunni religious leader.

"We have full faith in the Egyptian judicial system and we are awaiting the final ruling," he told AFP.

At the original trial, prosecutors alleged that Mustafa ordered the killing after Tamim, who had previously married two men in the music business, tied the knot with Iraqi kick-boxing champion Riyad al-Azzawi, whom she met at London's Harrods department store.

According to the prosecution case, Sukkari followed her to Dubai to stake out Tamim's flat. It was alleged that he then bought a knife, went to the apartment saying he worked for the building owner and allegedly killed her when she opened the door.

Mustafa, 49, was arrested in September and had his immunity lifted as member of the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament.

He ran the Talaat Mustafa Group real estate conglomerate that is worth several billion dollars, and is said to have been close to President Hosni Mubarak's son and heir apparent, Gamal.

Tamim's life had been marred by domestic disputes, including a rocky marriage with her second husband and agent, who had accused her in 2004 of being behind an attempt on his life.

Egyptian media said Tamim had a three-year relationship with Mustafa that ended several months before her death.

Sukkari, who headed security at one of Mustafa's hotels, was arrested after Dubai police found a footprint at the crime scene and traced the shoes that made it to a shop where he had used his credit card.

He was arrested a week later in Egypt.

The police officer who arrested Sukkari testified that Sukkari said in interrogation that Mustafa asked for Tamim's severed head to be delivered before he payed for the killing, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported.


Date created : 2010-03-04


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