x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Suzanne Tamim murder retrial to resume today

The retrial of two Egyptian men convicted of the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim begins today in Cairo.

Court will hear closing arguments before adjourning Nadia Abou el Magd Foreign Correspondent Cairo // The retrial of the two Egyptian men convicted of the Dubai murder of Suzanne Tamim, the Lebanese singer, resumes today in the Cairo Criminal Court after a three-month hiatus triggered by a national lawyers' strike. The court is expected to hear closing arguments from the prosecution and defence throughout the week, before adjourning for deliberation.

Hesham Talaat Moustafa, 50, a billionaire and senior member of Egypt's ruling party, is accused of inciting, assisting and paying Mohsen el Sokari, 41, a former state security officer, to murder Tamim, Moustafa's estranged lover. Both men were sentenced to death by hanging last year after being convicted of murdering Tamim in her Jumeirah Beach Residence flat in July 2008. The men appealed and were granted a retrial, which began in April. After 10 sessions, the trial was adjourned on June 29 until today. The adjournment was caused by the case's defence lawyers joining a strike by the Egyptian Lawyers Syndicate in response to the imprisonment of two lawyers in Tanta, a city in the Nile Delta, for assaulting the local public prosecutor. Trials also tend to break for the summer in July and August in Egypt.

Judge Adel Abdel Salam Gomaa is presiding over a new three-judge panel that was created for the retrial. Several prominent lawyers joined Moustafa's original two-person legal team after the initial death sentence verdict. El Sokari has retained the two lawyers who represented him at the first trial, which opened on October 18, 2008. The defence is expected to try to cast doubts on evidence submitted by the Dubai police department and Egyptian prosecution.

In May, in an unexpected twist in the case, Tamim's family dropped charges against Moustafa, but not el Sokari. Abdel Sattar Tamim, Tamim's father, denied that he changed his testimony after accepting money. According to lawyers, the dropping of the charges could spare Moustafa from the death penalty if he is again found guilty. nmagd@thenational.ae