DUBAI // An Egyptian tycoon with ties to the Egyptian government was charged yesterday with ordering the contract killing of the Lebanese singer Suzan Tamim in her Dubai flat in July. Hisham Talaat Mustafa, the chairman of the board of Egypt's largest publicly traded real estate company, was charged with ordering and paying for the killing, according to Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, an Egyptian prosecutor. The Egyptian state agency MENA reported that Mustafa, whose company is worth several billion dollars, is being held pending trial. Mustafa, a stalwart of the ruling National Democratic Party, is also a member of the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament.
Mr Mahmoud also confirmed that a retired Egyptian policeman, Mohsen el Sokari, had been charged with carrying out the murder. He was allegedly paid US$2 million (Dh7.345m) to kill the singer. Mr Mahmoud said Mustafa was accused of providing Sokari with "all the needed money for planning and executing the crime", and with helping him obtain visas to the UK and the UAE as he pursued Tamim. Mr Mahmoud said he had contacted the Shura Council to allow police to charge Mustafa. Following a request from the prosecutor, the Shura speaker, Satwaf Sherif, stripped Mustafa of the immunity from prosecution accorded all members of the legislature. Talaat Mustafa Group also said it had appointed his brother, Tarek Talaat Mustafa, in his place. "The decision comes after a meeting of the board which took place today [Tuesday] and was unanimously approved," it said. Last month, copies of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Dustur were withdrawn from sale after it reported that "an important Egyptian figure" who was "highly influential" was allegedly involved in Tamim's murder. Mr Mahmoud later referred the newspaper's managing editor to public prosecutors for breaking a ban on reporting the case. Ms Tamim, 31, was found dead in the living room of her flat at the Jumeirah Beach Residence on July 28, hours after a late-night gathering in her apartment. She suffered several knife wounds to her face and body, but was not decapitated, contrary to some reports at the time. Last month, a day after it was confirmed that the investigation into the murder was closed, police said they had arrested the man suspected of stabbing Tamim to death. After launching her singing career in 1996, Tamim became as well known for her private life as for her singing. In 2005, she was questioned by Interpol in Egypt over claims that she stole US$350,000 (Dh1.28 million) from her estranged husband. She also faced allegations in Egypt of being involved in a heroin smuggling ring with her father, and was also accused, with her father and an Egyptian businessman, of trying to murder her then-husband. Shares in Mustafa's company, Talaat Mustafa Group, which were trading for 11 Egyptian pounds (Dh7.5) in November, were down sharply to 4.99 pounds on the Egyptian Stock Exchange yesterday. * With additional reporting by Nadia Abou el-Magd