x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Trial date set in Tamim slaying

The trial of the Egyptian tycoon charged with hiring a man to kill the Lebanese singer Suzan Tamim in Dubai is to open next month.

The trial into the Suzan Tamim killing will open next month.
The trial into the Suzan Tamim killing will open next month.

CAIRO // The trial of the Egyptian tycoon charged with hiring a man to kill the Lebanese singer Suzan Tamim in Dubai is to open next month. Hisham Talaat Moustafa, the former chairman of Egypt's largest publicly traded property company, is accused of paying a hitman US$2 million (Dh7.34m) to kill Tamim at her flat in Dubai. Alongside him in the dock on Oct 18 will be Mohsen al Sokari, the former police officer who has been charged with the murder.

Adel Andrawas, head of the Cairo Court of Appeals, announced the trial would open on Oct 18, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported. Moustafa, 48, who is said to be worth several billion dollars, was arrested on Sept 2 and charged with ordering and paying for the killing. A stalwart of the National Democratic Party (NDP) headed by President Hosni Mubarak, he is also a member of the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament.

Moustafa was alleged to have provided Sokari with "all the needed money for planning and executing the crime". He is also accused of helping him obtain visas to the UK and the UAE as he pursued Tamim. The court recently received the case file, which includes details of an investigation by prosecutors into the defendants and other evidence, said Mr Andrawas. Under Egyptian law, both men will attend court in their white prison uniforms, and will stand in a cage in the courtroom.

There is no jury system in Egypt, and the case will be determined by a panel of three judges. Tamim was found dead in the living room of her flat at the Jumeirah Beach Residence on July 28, hours after a late-night gathering. She had several knife wounds to her face and body. After launching her singing career in 1996, Tamim became as well-known for her private life as for her music. In 2005, she was questioned by Interpol in Egypt over claims that she stole US$350,000 (Dh1.28m) from her estranged Lebanese husband, Adel Maatouk. 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.

It recently emerged that months before her death, Tamim reported threats on her life to police in the UK, where she was living at the time. She is said to have been routinely harassed and subjected to telephone threats. Her body was returned to her homeland and buried in a Beirut mosque on Aug 4. nmagd@thenational.ae