x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Lawyer in Tamim trial is accused of stalling

A lawyer defending the Egyptian tycoon accused of plotting to kill Suzanne Tamim in Dubai was accused yesterday of deliberately trying to prolong the retrial.

CAIRO // A lawyer defending the tycoon accused of plotting to kill Suzanne Tamim in Dubai was accused yesterday of deliberately trying to prolong the retrial process. Closing arguments had been expected in the retrial of Hesham Talaat Moustafa, 50, an Egyptian property magnate and member of the ruling party, and Mohsen el Sokari, 41, a former state security officer.

Instead, the head of Moustafa's defence team, Farid el Deeb, yesterday asked the panel of three judges to hear evidence again from almost 40 witnesses from Cairo and Dubai. Mr el Deeb also asked the court to move to Dubai to investigate the crime scene, demanded that a technical expert download all the contents of the digital video cameras provided by Dubai Police which captured el Sokari's movements on the day of the murder, and asked for more documents from Dubai Police.

The prosecutor, Moustafa Soliman, said: "This murder case has lasted more than two years and it took more than its time. Nothing new emerged that would justify all these demands. "This is an attempt to prolong and hinder a ruling in this case, with all these measures and demands. We urge that these demands be ignored and that the defence start their arguments." After more than an hour of deliberations, the presiding judge, Adel Abdel Salam Gomaa, announced an adjournment until tomorrow to notify the Egyptian witnesses, and until Thursday to inform the witnesses from Dubai.

These include the Dubai police officer who was the first to arrive at the crime scene, and the handler of the police dogs that found el Sokari's clothes one floor below the victim's apartment at Jumeirah Beach. Bahaa Abu Shouqa, another member of Moustafa's team, said: "I didn't make these demands personally and I don't see the point behind them. From day one of the retrial, I have been saying that I don't have any demands and I'm ready to present my defence."

Reda Ghoneim, a lawyer representing one of Tamim's former husbands, said: "There is no legal basis for the procrastination by Hesham's lawyers. "They are desperately attempting to change the judges in the retrial and pave the way for the next and last appeal. The case has gone back to square one. Now, after the defence finishes, if it ever finishes, the prosecution, and we, lawyers representing Tamim's husbands, will talk again, and so on and so forth.

"It's a case that could drag on for two more years. Only lawyers are benefiting from this." Mr el Deeb later denied that he was trying to delay the case and change the judges. "All these demands are essential, legitimate and normal," he said in a telephone interview. "The judge accepted almost all of them." Moustafa is accused of inciting, assisting and paying el Sokari to murder Tamim, the Lebanese singer who was Moustafa's estranged lover, in her Jumeirah Beach Residence flat in July 2008.

Both men were sentenced to death last year. They appealed their convictions and were granted a retrial, which began in April. After 10 sessions, the trial was adjourned on June 29 until September 25.

nmagd@thenational.ae