Egyptian tycoon sentenced to hang for singer's murder
Billionaire hired hitman to kill ex-lover after she turned down his marriage proposal
A murder mystery that began last year with the discovery of a Lebanese pop star stabbed to death in her Dubai apartment ended in a courtroom in Cairo yesterday with a death sentence for one of Egypt's richest and most influential men.
There was pandemonium in the court when Hisham Talaat Moustafa was sentenced to hang for paying an employee $2m (£1.25m) to murder his estranged lover, Suzanne Tamim. The killer, Muhsin Sukkari, who had worked for Moustafa at one of his hotels, was also sentenced to death.
The uproar that followed the verdict was in keeping with a murder that has gripped the Middle East, sometimes resembling a gaudy Egyptian soap opera. Moustafa's relatives jostled with photographers trying to snap the tycoon seated inside a metal cage in a white jumpsuit.
Some of his female relatives cried out, while others fainted.
The verdict was greeted with shock in the country at large, where members of the ruling elite are commonly thought to be above the law.
Moustafa is a well-connected billionaire businessman. He is a member of the ruling National Democratic Party, with a seat in the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, and he is a personal friend of the Egyptian President's son, Gamal Mubarak. The prosecution asserted that Ms Tamim was stabbed to death in her luxury apartment by a hitman sent by the Egyptian tycoon.
The court heard how Sukkari, a former policeman who had worked as a security man, had tricked his way into the 30-year-old's luxury apartment and had killed her with multiple blows to her face and throat.
Moustafa, 60, who ran Egypt's largest real estate group, reportedly ordered the killing after having his proposal of marriage rejected.
Media reports in Lebanon have since linked the singer to a kickboxer, Riyad al-Azawi, with whom she was apparently planning to move in.
Ms Tamim, who shot to fame after winning Lebanon's version of Pop Idol in 1996, was almost as well known for her troubled personal life as her music, with two failed marriages behind her. The killer's mistake was to leave a shoe print at the scene which was traced first to a Dubai shoe shop and from there to the former policeman's home. Police were able to identify the suspect from security camera footage and DNA tests on blood on his clothes.
The breakthrough to the man who was found to have ordered the killing was made after police were given recordings of telephone conversations between Moustafa and his hitman.
Transcripts of these have been printed in the Egyptian press, and show the tycoon had asked for the killing to be made to look like an accident, as had happened with the killing of another Egyptian billionaire in London.
"The best solution is for her to be thrown from the balcony, like what happened with Ashraf Marwan in London," says the voice, claimed to belong to Moustafa. "The agreed-upon amount is ready. She is in London... deal with it."
Sukhari replied: "The place for it to be carried out has moved to Dubai... the matter needs careful preparation... she has many people around her."
Friends and relatives of the dead woman expressed their relief at the sentences handed down.
"I knew the girl since she was a child and she used to play with my kids, so I am satisfied with the verdict," a former neighbour, Sami al-Labban, told Reuters. "God have mercy on her. She did a lot of charity work."
Samir al-Shishtawi, a lawyer for the defence, called the ruling "severe" and said he expected it would be overturned on appeal. It still faces review by a top Muslim religious figure. "It is a ruling aimed at deterrence more than at implementing the law," he said.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
- 3 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 4 Pornhub pleads with users to stop uploading videos of Brazil 'getting f**ked by Germany' in World Cup match
- 5 Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Jennifer Lawrence face palms Emma Watson at Christian Dior show in Paris
Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2014: Briton critically injured in San Fermin festival
Elephant 'cries' while being rescued after 50 years of abuse in India
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...
£36000 - £38000 per annum: Charter Selection: Charter Selection are working wi...
£25000 per annum: Charter Selection: Exciting sports company with a strong bra...
£250 - £295 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountant - IFRS - Glouc...