Egyptian parliament members decried the ban coverage of the trial of Egyptian tycoon Hisham Talat Mustafa, who is accused of hiring former State Security officer Mohsen al-Sukkari to murder Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim.
The court announced a ban on press and television coverage of the trial, scheduled to begin Saturday in the South Cairo Court.
Few journalists will be allowed to attend the trial and only after receiving special permits from the court. No satellite stations based outside Egypt will be permitted in the courtroom.
Media, public deprived
Egyptian MPs expressed concern that the decision deprives the media of its right to cover events of interest and the public of its right to information
"Is the purpose of the ban to prevent opposition journalists and unofficial media from knowing the truth and thus hushing up the public opinion in Egypt and hiding the truth from those who follow the case abroad?" independent MP Gamal Zahran asked in an interview with AlArabiya.net.
MP Talaat al-Sadat told AlArabiya.net that the ban will not hide the truth behind the murder since the case is bigger that the usual security blackout.
"They think the murder of Tamim is like the case of Mamdouh Ismail's ferry , which ended in the darkness," he said, referring to the acquittal of an Egyptian businessman charged with manslaughter after his ferry sank in the Red Sea, killing 1,034 died.
"The victims of the ferry were all Egyptian," Sadat said, "but this case involves a Lebanese citizen who lived in the U.A.E., which means there are three countries involved—Egypt, Lebanon, and the U.A.E. Thus, it will be impossible to hide the truth."
Muslim Brotherhood MP Mohsen Radi considered preventing media presence at the trial a form of corruption, supported by the regime.
"No permission is needed for journalists to attend trials. The judiciary system is about openness and not secrecy,” Radi told AlArabiya.net. “They have to know that they cannot muzzle journalists no matter what the consequences could be."
Speculation of release
Speculation that Mustafa will be released in time to take part in an international real estate conference arose recently following an announcement published earlier this month in the Saudi newspaper Al-Eqtisadiah.
The International Real Estate Forum, to be held in Saudi Arabia Oct. 19-20, announced that Mustafa will take part in one of the conference's seminars, which will include the American Ambassador in Riyadh, Egyptian businessman Yassin Mansour, and a number of real estate businessmen in the Middle East.
AlArabiya.net learned on Tuesday that Mustafa, detained in Cairo’s Tora prison, sought to add Leadel al-Maatouq’s, Tamim’s husband, former lawyer to his defense team.
Mustafa’s brother Tareq spoke with Dr. Essam al-Tabbakh and arranged a meeting with his brother’s lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, who met to discuss the case.
Tabbakh is known to have reported Abdul-Sattar Tamim, Suzanne's father, who was arrested in Cairo airport for possession of cocaine. Tabbakh said he was acting upon instructions from Maatouq who gave him the flight number and the cocaine's hiding place.
"As an Egyptian citizen who knew that drugs were about to enter the country, I had to interfere and stop it," Tabbakh told AlArabiya.net. "I didn't mean to harm Tamim or anyone else. I reported him myself and gave all my phone numbers. If I had bad intentions, I would have made someone else call the police."
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)