Middle East

Suzanne Tamim murder: Egypt tycoon's sentence upheld

Hisham Talaat Moustafa
Image caption To many Egyptians, Moustafa symbolised the untouchability of the former ruling elite

An appeal court in Egypt has upheld the 15-year prison sentence given to a property tycoon for ordering the murder of the Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim.

Hisham Talaat Moustafa was sentenced to death after his initial trial in 2009.

In 2010, judges quashed his conviction and ordered a retrial, at which he was given a 15-year jail sentence. But Moustafa subsequently filed an appeal.

The court also upheld the life sentence for Mohsen al-Sukkari, the security guard allegedly paid $2m to kill Tamim.

She was found with her throat slit in a Dubai hotel in July 2008.

At the appeal, lawyers for the two defendants argued that "more than one person wanted to kill Suzanne Tamim", and that prosecutors had presented only "circumstantial evidence" linking them to the murder.

Moustafa was an associate of former President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal, and was a senior member of the former ruling National Democratic Party, sitting on its policies committee.

He is alleged to have started an affair with Tamim after she asked him for help in divorcing her husband, and to have ordered her killing at one of the hotels owned by his firm when she spurned his marriage proposal.

The murder case gripped the Arab public at the time as Moustafa was seen as typical of an elite that used wealth and political connections to escape the law. The different prison sentences handed down to Moustafa and Sukkari reinforced this impression among some observers.

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