x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Forensic scientist in Tamim retrial stands by her DNA conclusion

The Egyptian expert was cross examined in Cairo by lawyers for the accused former state security officer who, Dubai Police said, killed the Lebanese singer in 2008.

Mohsen el-Sokari sits inside the defendant's cage during his original trial. He was more animated during yesterday's testimony.
Mohsen el-Sokari sits inside the defendant's cage during his original trial. He was more animated during yesterday's testimony.

CAIRO // The Egyptian expert who examined blood and clothes that Dubai Police said belong to the accused killer of Suzanne Tamim defended her forensic work yesterday. Heba El-Iraqi was cross examined in Cairo Criminal Court by lawyers for Mohsen el-Sokari, 41, the former state security officer Dubai Police said killed the Lebanese singer in her apartment on July 28, 2008.

While the lawyers tried to discredit her work, she carefully explained her procedures, eventually becoming testy in the face of the lawyers' persistence. Ms El-Iraqi said she took blood samples from el-Sokari and tested a brown T-shirt with pink stripes and black Nike sweatpants that Dubai Police found near the crime scene. She found his blood and the DNA on the clothes to be a match. El-Sokari's chief lawyer, Atef el-Mannawi, continued to try to cast doubt not only on the DNA evidence, but on video footage showing el-Sokari leaving the Oasis hotel, where he was staying, then going back to the hotel and checking out shortly after the crime was committed.

For the third time since the retrial started, the three-judge panel watched hours of the footage. El-Sokari and his lawyers deny that he is the man shown in the incriminating scenes. "You stop talking, understood," the chief judge, Abdel-Salam Gomaa, said firmly to El-Sokari, who, from his cage in the courtroom, continued to argue yesterday with the technical expert from the Interior Ministry who was playing the tapes.

In the adjacent cage sat Hesham Talaat Moustafa, the Egyptian tycoon and senior member of the ruling party who is accused of paying el-Sokari US$2million (Dh7.3m) to kill his estranged lover. The two men were convicted and sentenced to death in May last year. Their appeal was granted this March, and retrial by new three judges started on April 26. After three hours yesterday, Judge Gomaa adjourned the trial to today, when witnesses are to be called by Farid el-Deeb, Moustafa's chief defence lawyer, to counter the evidence of Dirzadeh Wajih el Din, 38, a Pakistani engineer who installed the surveillance cameras in Remal tower in Jumeirah Beach Residence, where Tamim lived.

Mr Wajih el Din said again yesterday that he is sure of the authenticity of the footage because if it was adapted or tampered with, the design of the recording system would not have permitted the footage to be played. Mr Moustafa, who owns the Four Seasons hotel chain in Egypt, and his lawyers argued on Saturday that the footage could have been tampered with and they asked that testimony be heard from technicians who installed surveillance cameras for Four Seasons. @Email:nmagd@thenational.ae