Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:35 am (KSA) 21:35 pm (GMT)

Egypt court orders retrial of tycoon over murder

Rejection of Talaat Mustafa’s appeal request would've paved the way for his execution
Rejection of Talaat Mustafa’s appeal request would've paved the way for his execution

An Egyptian court accepted an appeal by property tycoon and politician Hesham Talaat Moustafa and ordered a retrial after he was sentenced to death for murdering a Lebanese singer.

The court "accepts the request for retrial for both convicts," judge Adel Abdel-Hamid told the court. He added that the case, which included a security man also sentenced to death over the murder, would go to a criminal court.

Judge Abdel-Hamid postponed the ruling on Feb. 4 after a six-hour session that had been expected to lead to a decision on whether to accept or reject the appeal request.

A court in Cairo issued on May 2009 death sentences by hanging for Hisham Talaat Mustafa and retired policeman Mohsen al-Sukkari for respectively ordering and executing the killing of Suzanne Tamim.

The defendants appealed their sentences to the court of cassation, Egypt’s top judicial authority, which will either order a re-trial or uphold the previous sentences.

Legal experts said a ruling that rejected Mustafa's appeal request would have cleared the way for his execution, although the constitution allows the president to issue a pardon or reduction in any sentence.

Mustafa, a leading businessman and a member of parliament, was arrested in September 2008 after he was accused of paying Sukkari $2 million to kill singer and former girlfriend Tamim, who was found decapitated in her luxury home in Dubai.

The convicts’ lawyers said the investigation carried out in Dubai was flawed and lacked reasonable proof that Mustafa was behind the murder of the Lebanese diva.

Evidence used in the court ruling included recordings of telephone calls between Mustafa and Sukkari, security video footage from the apartment and DNA from the bloodied clothes that Sukkari was accused of leaving close to the scene of the crime.

In a memorandum of appeal, Baha Abu Shoqa, Mustafa’s lawyer, said the appeal also points to shortcomings in Mustafa’s trial, including violations of the defendants’ rights.

Mustafa, who was born in 1959, gave up the chairmanship of the Talaat Mustafa Group to his brother Tarek. Tamim, who died at the age of 30, rose to fame after winning the top prize in a television competition show in 1996.

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