Egyptian Tycoon Condemned to Death

It was a stunning sentence in a case that shocked the Arab world: Egyptian billionaire Hisham Talaat Moustafa was condemned to death in the murder of his pop star lover Suzan Tamim.

The Lebanese beauty was killed last summer in her Dubai apartment by Muhsen el-Sukkari, a former security guard accused of taking $2 million from Moustafa to stab Tamim to death.

Sukkari was also given the death sentence by an Egyptian court on Thursday, the final episode of a trial closely watched throughout the Middle East. It was a trial that said a billionaire with tight political connections could not get away with murder, contrary to public expectations that the rules are suspended when broken by the ruling class.

The court session quickly turned chaotic with police and Moustafa's relatives clashing with reporters scrambling for a reaction from the defendants to the verdict. Moustafa's two daughters burst into tears after the verdict, and his sister fainted. "This verdict is cruel," Sameer el-Shishtawi, one of Moustafa's lawyers told reporters outside the southern Cairo court. He said he would appeal and was confident the verdict would be overturned. Both men had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Moustafa's trial marked the demise of one of the country's most prominent businessmen. Over the past decade, he became one of Egypt's wealthiest men, building a real estate empire that included luxury hotels and resorts. He was also a leading force behind the rise of the pricey Western-style suburbs that ring Cairo.

The arrest and indictment of Moustafa, also a member of Egypt's upper house of parliament closely linked to President Hosni Mubarak, shocked Egypt, where high-level officials are rarely publicly held accountable for their crimes.

One attorney close to the case told ABC News Egyptian authorities indicted Moustafa only under intense pressure from Dubai, whose ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had promised the victim's family that the murder would not go unpunished.

Egyptian newspapers were initially banned from covering the case, but authorities overturned that ban. Pro-government papers cited the case as evidence that no one in Egypt is above the law. This week authorities announced the trial would be televised live when it opened -- an unprecedented public hearing.

At the trial, authorities pointed to security footage of El-Sukkary in Dubai, blood-soaked clothes that were found dumped outside the building and the knife he used to slash Tamim's throat as evidence. In Tamim's Aisha Bakkar middle-class Muslim district of Beirut, a picture of the slain singer hung above the door of the family's ground floor residence. Najib Liyan, who identified himself as the family's lawyer, told APTN he was "grateful for the verdict."

"We had no doubt about justice," Liyan said. Still, he added, "no one can be happy about death, whether it is a crime or a death sentence."

The Tragic Life of a Slain Pop Princess

Suzan Tamim is the face behind the crime that shook the Middle East.

Pictures of Suzan, who was 30 at the time of her death, show a sultry pop star with a commanding presence, her talent bathed in sensuality. What they failed to capture was a woman who friends say never had control of her own life, because she never freed herself from the men who controlled her.

"Suzan was the victim of her beauty," friend and stylist Joe Raad told ABC News.

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