Home » Egyptian court clears billionaire of pop star lover’s murder

Egyptian court clears billionaire of pop star lover’s murder

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Hisham Talaat Moustafa

An Egyptian criminal court has granted a request for name-clearing of charges on Sunday by billionaire business magnate Hisham Talaat Moustafa, who had been sentenced to 15 years for his role in the 2008 murder of pop star Suzanne Tamim. 

Moustafa applied for the name-clearing six years after receiving a presidential pardon in 2017 on health grounds. Article 536 of Egypt’s Criminal Procedure Law stipulates that expungement can be granted to individuals convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, requiring a passage of six years after completing the sentence or receiving a presidential pardon in felony cases.

Tamim gained fame in the 1990s after winning an Arabic TV talent show, Arab Star Search.

According to media reports, an affair between Tamim and Moustafa began in 2004, following her initial solicitation of Moustafa’s assistance in divorcing her then-husband.

Moustafa, already married, reportedly sought to make Tamim his second wife. During interrogations, Moustafa claimed to have ended the relationship due to his mother’s opposition to their marriage plans.

According to court documents, Tamim declined Moustafa’s proposal and subsequently relocated to London, where she lived with Iraqi kickboxing world champion Riyad al-Azzawi. She was found stabbed to death in her Dubai apartment in July 2008.

An Egyptian court determined that Egyptian police officer Mohsen al-Sukkary had fatally stabbed the Lebanese singer, having been paid $2 million by Moustafa.

Al-Sukkary was sentenced to 25 years in 2010. In 2020, he was among 3,157 individuals granted clemency by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during Eid al-Fitr.

Egypt declined the United Arab Emirates’ request to extradite Moustafa.

Initially sentenced to death in 2009, Moustafa had his conviction overturned in 2010, leading to a retrial. He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for hiring al-Sukkary to murder the renowned Lebanese pop star.

Before his murder charge, Moustafa held a significant position within former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s now-defunct National Democratic Party, which was dissolved after Mubarak’s 2011 overthrow due to widespread protests and police misconduct. Moustafa also had close ties to Gamal, Mubarak’s son.

Tamim’s killing incited public outrage across the Middle East, highlighting how the wealthy elite employed money and influence to operate above the law. 

Moustafa is the CEO of the Talaat Moustafa Group, which has more than $7 billion in assets and is Egypt’s largest publicly traded real estate company. TMGH owns more than 50 million square meters of land. Moustafa owns 43.16 percent of the company.

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