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Egypt Tycoon gets retrial over singer’s death
Talaat Moustafa already had death sentence commuted; Shares of property group rise after court decision
January 17, 2012 3:04 by Reuters
An Egyptian court on Monday ordered a second retrial of property tycoon and ex-politician Hesham Talaat Moustafa, who is serving a 15-year sentence for his role in the murder of a Lebanese singer.
The former member of parliament and former chairman of property firm Talaat Moustafa Group was found guilty in 2009 of paying an Egyptian security man to kill Suzanne Tamim, and sentenced to death by hanging.
That verdict was commuted to 15 years in prison after a retrial in 2010.
The court said in its ruling on Monday that Talaat Moustafa and the security man, Muhsen el-Sukkari, would be tried again by an appeal court on Feb. 6. It gave no reason for the decision.
Talaat Moustafa was a member of parliament for the party of ousted President Hosni Mubarak at the time of his original conviction. The case reinforced the belief among many Egyptians that the political class was a corrupt and venal elite that felt above the law.
Mubarak’s overthrow in a popular uprising last February unleashed a string of other court cases against top businessmen and government officials, most of them dealing with corruption and abuse of power.
The original indictment said Sukkari killed Tamim at her apartment in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in July 2008, after tricking her into opening the door by posing as a representative of the building’s owners.
The charge sheet said Moustafa’s motive was revenge, but it did not explain his relationship with Tamim in detail.
Tamim, who was 30, rose to fame after winning the top prize in a television show in 1996. She married Lebanese impresario and producer Adel Matouk, who became her manager, but they later had an acrimonious divorce, media reports said.
The case was tried in Egypt as the country does not allow the extradition of its citizens to face trial abroad.
The original trial and verdict hit the value of shares in Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG), the real estate developer which Talaat Moustafa’s late father created and the defendant chaired.
Moustafa, who was born in 1959, eventually gave up the chairmanship of TMG to his brother Tarek.
TMG stock jumped 2.5 percent early on Monday but later was flat, in line with Egypt’s benchmark EGX30 index.