CAIRO: Egypt’s Court of Cassation decided Thursday to postpone till March 4 the appeal decision in the case of Hisham Talaat Moustafa and Mohsen Al-Sukkari, the two men indicted for the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim.
Both Moustafa and Al-Sukkari were given the death sentence in May 2009 in the initial murder trial. The Cassation Court is their last chance to overturn the verdict.
The hearing began on Monday as the court – headed by Adel Abdel-Hamid – heard from the defense team of Moustafa and Al-Sukkari as well as rebuttals from the public prosecutor.
No new evidence is admissible during the process.
The Cassation Court is the final stage of the appellate process, and in murder cases the appeals process is shortened to the initial trial at the Cairo Criminal Court and the review of the Cassation Court, there is no secondary appeals process.
Therefore the Cassation Court does not rule on the case in its entirety, but rather it reviews the verdict and the reasons for it and decides whether it is to be upheld or not.
If the court upholds the death sentence for Moustafa and Al-Sukkari then it is binding and the legal process is over. However, the court does have the authority to order a retrial of the case in another circuit of the Cairo Criminal Court.
Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim was murdered in Dubai on July 28, 2008. Al-Sukkari was convicted of actually carrying out the murder – a brutal killing in which Tamim was stabbed several times and had her throat slit – at the behest of Moustafa, who was romantically linked with the singer in the past. Al-Sukkari was allegedly paid $2 million to carry out the murder. Police authorities in Dubai identified Al-Sukkari who was arrested an hour and a half after landing in Cairo airport on the same day of the murder. He was identified using footage from the building’s security cameras and a change of clothes caked with blood found outside the building.
Moustafa, the billionaire former chairman of construction giant Talaat Moustafa Group, was arrested on Sept. 2, 2008 after parliamentary immunity was lifted from him. He was also a member of the policies secretariat of the ruling National Democratic Party.
The trial began Oct. 2008 at the Giza Criminal Court and lasted 29 sessions over eight months until the death by hanging verdict was reached in May 2009.
The judge in the criminal trial had instituted a press ban on details of the case and five journalists from Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Wafd were fined LE 10,000 in Feb. 2009 for violation of the ban.