Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Justice for Suzanne Tamim?

Pop star murder retrial saves Egyptian senior ruling party member from death sentence.

The first time Hisham Talaat Mustafa was found guilty of ordering the murder of Lebanese Pop Star Suzanne Tamim, he was sentenced to death. On Tuesday, a Cairo court reduced the Egyptian tycoon's sentence to fifteen years in jail in a retrial. His co-defendant got life in jail. A new twist in a high profile case that exposes flaws in Egypt's justice system.

30-year-old Suzanne Tamim, a Lebanese rising pop star,was stabbed and her throat slit two years ago in her Dubai apartment. Details of the brutal murder and the following investigation made headlines across the Middle East and brought to the surface a complex plot involving power, fame, infidelity, jealousy, and greed which led to murder.

In May 2009 an Egyptian court sentenced two men to death by hanging for their role in Tamim's murder.

Mohsen el-Sukkary, a former Egyptian state security officer, was charged with carrying out the killing, at the orders of Hisham Talaat Mustafa, one of Egypt's richest and most powerful men - a real estate mogul with close ties to Egypt's government elite. Police presented evidence tying both of them to the crime.

According to Egypt’s Public prosecutor, Abdul Meguid Mahmoud, “Mustafa took part through incitement, agreement and assistance with Sukkary in killing the victim in revenge."

Revenge, Arab media outlets reported, for a failed love affair with the Lebanese Diva.

Those sentences shocked observers at the time as the Egyptian government, frequently criticized for winking at corruption and covering up for well connected powerful figures, seemed to have answered the public cries for justice.

In reaction to the death sentence, Mustafa's lawyer vowed to appeal and expressed confidence that the verdict will be "annulled."

The Middle East is not unfamiliar with soap opera-like dramas linking powerful politicians or businessmen to popular figures in the entertainment industry. But this drama proved different as it offered the public some unfamiliar elements.

- The graphic details of the murder were made public from the onset, surprising in a region where investigations are traditionally kept quiet.

- Dubai lived up to its corruption-fighting campaign and delivered an extensively documented investigation including surveillance video from the crime scene showing the killer.

- With the death sentences in 2009, Egypt served the justice so many had sought but doubted they'll get.

For a short period of time, this case seemed like a model for the kind of justice many Arab citizens yearn for; blind to power and connections, fair to all. Instead, a "technicality" sent the case for retrial and the death sentence was reduced to fifteen years in jail. Will there be more "technicalities" leading to more trials until a guilty but powerful man of Egypt is set free?


Keep the conversation going...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are pictures of two countries/ areas, one is Dubai and other Egypt in general.. As told we are happy that Dubai authorities always does its part case in point is Hammas leader assasination by Mossad.. But on Egypt what i am reading is pathetic.... If the judges had freed them because they are politically linked with ruling elites, then they have also participated in this crime..

Farhan fervor-

October 1, 2010 at 4:42 PM  

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