A billionaire businessman with ties to Egypt's presidential family won an appeal today when a court threw out his conviction for allegedly paying a hitman $2 million to kill his sexy pop star girlfriend because she refused to marry him.
The country's highest court of appeals ordered a new trial for Hisham Talaat Moustafa and Muhsin Sukkari, the former state security officer who confessed, according to court documents, that he was hired to kill Moustafa's girlfriend, sultry singer Suzanne Tamim.
"The court has decided to accept ... the appeal presented by the defendants on procedural and content basis," said Judge Adel Abdel Hamid. "There will be a retrial."
The reasons for accepting the appeal are still murky, but the court says they will be made public at a later date.
Both men had been sentenced to death for murdering Tamim in her plush apartment in Dubai in 2008. The announcement was met with cheers and clapping in the packed court room from Moustafa's family and was carried live on several Egyptian TV stations.
It is a story which involves sex, money and murder. Moustafa, 51, had an affair with Tamim, 30, but when she turned down his offer of marriage and tried to call off the affair, he allegedly paid Sukkari $2 million to kill her.
Rarely has the region seen a case like this, where the elite, who normally enjoy immunity, are charged, the gruesome details of the case made public, and the search for justice fervent. The prevailing feeling was that because Moustafa is an influential businessman and friends with President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal, he was above the law and would not be charged or found guilty.
Tamim shot to fame after winning a reality TV contest in 1996. She had beauty, glamor, and a successful career. The pop star was celebrated for her looks and versatile voice that could perform classical and modern Arab pop music.
Tamim released two albums and enjoyed several hit singles. But this all ended in tragedy.
Her second marriage to her manager broke down and she escaped to Cairo. After a whirlwind romance with Moustafa, their affair also collapsed. During his interrogation, the Egyptian businessman said that they ended their relationship because his mother opposed their marriage plans.
Investigators in Dubai, however, claim that Moustafa ordered Sukkari to kill her. The former state security member allegedly made his way into her apartment by posing as someone working for the owner of the property.
Hours later, Tamim was found, throat slashed and with multiple stab wounds. Sukkari was captured entering and leaving her apartment on surveillance video. He was arrested and confessed under questioning.
The Egyptian government refused to extradite Moustafa to the United Arab Emirates in order to have him tried in Egypt.