Tycoon gets jail, after death sentence scrapped

Murder most foul


The new lighter sentence in a retrial is likely to fuel public perceptions that the elite are above the law in Egypt.

Hesham Talaat Moustafa, a member of parliament for the ruling National Democratic Party, had been sentenced last year to death along with Muhsen el-Sukkari, a security man whom the magnate was charged with paying to stab Suzanne Tamim to death in Dubai.

Media reports labelled the attack an act of revenge after the singer Tamim, killed in 2008, ended a relationship with Moustafa.

The original conviction of an influential member of the business elite caused ripples across the Arab world and surprised many in Egypt, where powerful executives and those close to the ruling party are often regarded as above the law.

Analysts said at the time the retrial was granted that the procedure was not unusual but Moustafa’s privileged background was likely to spur talk about different rules for the elite.
Moustafa was convicted of inciting the murder, judge Adel Abdel Salam Gomaa told the court.

The verdict came as a surprise, even to some members of the Moustafa’s defence team, as the judge had been expected to hear more witnesses and closing arguments.

The judge said Sukkari was given life in prison for his role, which amounts to 25 years, as well as receiving three years for possessing an illegal weapon.

Sukkari’s lawyer said he would appeal the verdict.

Market reaction

Shares in Talaat Moustafa Group, the property firm Moustafa chaired until he stepped down after being charged, climbed 2 per cent on the news. The stock has risen and fallen with each twist and turn of the case that has gripped the Arab public.

Moustafa was arrested in September 2008, after Tamim’s death. He was sentenced to death by a criminal court in May 2009.

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