x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tamim retrial delayed as lawyers join strike

The retrial of two men accused of murdering the Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim after lawyers join national strike.

CAIRO // The retrial of two men accused of murdering the Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim in Dubai was adjourned yesterday after defence lawyers said they were joining a national strike. The Egyptian Lawyers Syndicate has been on strike for almost three weeks in response to the imprisonment of two lawyers in Tanta, a city in the Nile Delta, for assaulting the local public prosecutor.

Before yesterday's adjournment, the presiding judge read from copies of documents submitted to court detailing the decision by Tamim's family to drop its civil case against her former lover, the billionaire tycoon Hesham Talaat Moustafa, who is accused of hiring a man to kill her. Moustafa, 50, a senior member of Egypt's ruling party, is accused of inciting, assisting and paying Mohsen el Sokari, 41, a former state security officer, US$2 million (Dh7.3m) to murder Tamim almost two years ago.

Both men were sentenced to hang last year after being convicted of murdering Tamim, who was found in a pool of blood at her Jumeirah Beach Residence apartment in July 2008. After an appeal, the men were granted a retrial, with three new judges, which began in April. In May, Tamim's family decided to drop their separate civil charges against Moustafa. It is not yet clear whether the family's decision, for which they claim to have received no money, will have a bearing on the case.

Evidence given by the 30-year-old singer's father, Abdel Sattar Tamim, was specifically mentioned in the reasoning of the guilty verdicts and death sentences at the end of the trial in May last year. Legal experts have said that dropping the civil suit should not affect the verdict. However, Bahaa Abu Shouqa, a lawyer representing Moustafa, said the sentence might change. "It might make the judge opt for a lesser punishment if he still believes that the defendant is guilty," he said.

Yesterday, the judge offered to assign the defendants new lawyers, which both defendants declined. The trial will resume on Tuesday. @Email:nmagd@thenational.ae