CAIRO: The Cairo Cassation Court overturned the death verdict and ordered the retrial of Hisham Talaat Moustafa and Mohsen Al-Sukkari Thursday for the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim.
The courtroom broke out in loud cheers as head of the Cassation Court Adel Abdel-Hamid announced that the appeals filed by both Moustafa and Al-Sukkari had been accepted and a retrial would be set. Neither defendant was present in the courtroom.
This was the last stage in the appellate process for the defendants. Had the Cassation Court acceded to the death sentence handed down to Moustafa and Al-Sukkari by the criminal court, there would have been no possibility of appeal.
There is no secondary appeals process in murder cases in Egypt.
The court’s mandate was to pass judgment on the verdict itself, and not the details of the case, therefore no new evidence could be admitted. Thus in this case a retrial is to take place in a different circuit of the Criminal Court, probably in April or May.
Shares in Talaat Moustafa Group closed 4 percent down after the verdict was announced. The shares had traded as much as 4 percent higher in the session on expectations of a retrial.
“Buy the rumor, sell the fact, Ashraf Akhnoukh from CIBC brokerage told Reuters. “Everyone bought the stock two days ago, speculating he would get a retrial. When this happened they were in the money, they made a lot of money and they sold, he added.
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 and he was arrested an hour and a half after landing in Cairo on the same day of the murder. He was identified using footage from the building’s security cameras and found a change of clothes caked with blood outside the building.
Chief of the Dubai Police Dahi Khalfan said before Thursday’s verdict in an interview with Al-Hayat satellite channel that there was no doubt that Al-Sukkari had committed the murder of Tamim.
“The DNA [results] are clear and unambiguous, Al-Sukkari committed the crime, he said.
Moustafa, the billionaire former chairman of the construction giant Talaat Moustafa Group was arrested Sept. 2, 2008 after his parliamentary immunity was lifted. He was also a member of the policies secretariat of the National Democratic Party.
The initial trial began October 2008 and the Giza Criminal Court found both Moustafa and Al-Sukkari guilty and sentenced them to death by hanging in May 2009. -Additional reporting by Reuters.