Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim's killers to be executed

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The Independent Online

A court confirmed the death sentence on an Egyptian businessman and politician today for ordering the murder of a Lebanese pop star, in a case that has gripped the Arab world.

Hesham Talaat Moustafa, who was a member of parliament for the ruling National Democratic Party and formerly chaired a leading Egyptian property firm, was convicted of paying a hitman $2 million to kill Suzanne Tamim, 30, at her apartment in Dubai.

Media reports labelled the attack an act of revenge after she ended their relationship. The death sentence on Moustafa and security man Muhsen el-Sukkari, who killed her, was referred to Ali Gomaa, Egypt's mufti and a religious authority appointed by the state, on 21 May. His approval is sought to confirm a death sentence.

"The court ruled the following on those present, firstly, based on consensus of its members, the punishment of execution for both accused Muhsen el-Sukkari and Hesham Talaat Moustafa," Judge Mohamedi Qonsuwa said after the mufti gave his opinion.

The sentence automatically goes to appeal.

The verdict in May was greeted with shock in Egypt where members of the elite are generally regarded as being above the law and where reporting of the trial was banned. Moustafa and Sukkari were inside a cage in court on Thursday and read the Koran before the judge confirmed the sentence.

Sukkari was reported to have tricked the singer into opening her door in Dubai by posing as a representative of the building owners. He then stabbed her with a knife, the indictment said.

Sukkari later dumped bloody clothes near the crime scene, leaving DNA, prosecutors said. Evidence also included phone calls between Moustafa, who was born in 1959, and Sukkari.

Tamim rose to fame after winning the top prize in a television show in 1996.

Moustafa handed over the chairmanship of the Talaat Moustafa Group to his brother Tarek after being charged.