CAIRO: Egyptian business tycoon Hisham Talaat Moustafa has denied he hired a hit man to slay a Lebanese pop singer in Dubai, according to a letter published Saturday in a leading pro-government newspaper.
Moustafa, who has close ties to President Hosni Mubarak, spoke out for the first time since his arrest earlier this month on charges alleging he hired a former Egyptian police officer for $2 million to kill former girlfriend, Suzanne Tamim, who was found decapitated in her apartment in July.
Moustafa – a lawmaker and top ruling party member – said in the letter published in Akbhar Al-Youm that he is innocent and accused “enemies of success of fabricating the case against him.
“Knives have been sharpened, tearing at my flesh, Moustafa wrote in the letter from behind bars at one of Egypt’s largest prisons.
“These lies will not be able to move the great pyramids I have constructed in the Egyptian economy, wrote Moustafa, who used to chair the construction and real estate company, Talaat Moustafa Group or TMG Holding. His brother took over as CEO since his arrest on Sept. 2.
Moustafa, whose trial is set to open Oct. 18, did not specify exactly who he thought was behind his arrest.
“In the midst of all my work, I didn’t realize that success has enemies, he wrote. “God’s generosity provoked the envy and antagonism around me.
Tamim’s slaying caught millions of Egyptians and Arabs across the region with surprise, not only because of the alleged involvement of the real estate mogul and well-connected businessman in a murder case, but in the mere arrest of those known for so long as the untouchables.
When Moustafa’s name first appeared in media reports weeks before his arrest, he denied a role and complained on Egyptian television that the rumors hurt the economy. The government promptly banned press reports on the murder, suggesting that Moustafa was off-limits.
Moustafa, who is close to Mubarak’s son, Gamal, is one of Egypt’s top billionaires, the owner of luxury hotels and beach resorts and a leading force in building Western-style suburbs ringing Cairo for the upper-class.
His defense attorney, Farid El-Deeb, said in an interview with the same newspaper that the case had “many breaches including the absence of a strong motive.
“Hisham loved Suzanne. … He would have married her except for his family’s objection, El-Deeb said about his client, who is already married and has three children. His conservative family objected to him taking a pop singer as another wife.
Local papers have suggested that Moustafa ordered Tamim’s death after she allegedly withdrew $30 million from his bank accounts, something his lawyer has denied.