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Egypt mogul gets 15 years jail instead of death

[ 2010-09-29 10:43]     字号 [] [] []  
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An Egyptian court handed a billionaire charged with killing his pop star lover a lighter sentence of just 15 years after an earlier trial sentenced him to death, the state news agency said on Tuesday.

The new sentence of Hisham Talaat Moustafa, a prominent member of Egypt's ruling party, in the brutal murder of a Lebanese singer is likely to spark new accusations of political influence.

Moustafa, the builder behind the luxury suburbs for the rich that now ring Cairo, was close to the powerful son of Egypt's president and has come to symbolize the close bond between businessmen and politicians in recent years.

The judge convicted Moustafa for conspiracy to murder of 30-year-old Suzanne Tamim and gave him 15 years in prison. The timing of the verdict came as a surprise because there had been no indication the retrial was ending and the defense had yet to give its summation.

The real estate tycoon was sentenced to death in May 2009 after being convicted of paying a retired Egyptian police officer $2 million to kill Tamim while she was in Dubai in July 2008. The court in March overturned the conviction on procedural grounds and ordered a retrial.

The sentence for the man actually convicted of killing Tamim, Mohsen el-Sukkary, was also reduced to just life in prison, which is 25 years under the Egyptian penal code.

Prison years, under the Egyptian system are nine months long, meaning that Moustafa could be released in just a few years, counting time served and good behavior.

The sentences can still be appealed by the defendants, the prosecutor or Tamim's family. In May, it was widely reported in the Arab media that Moustafa had agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to her family.

The company he once headed, Talaat Moustafa Group, is Egypt's largest publicly traded property developer. TMG has been the focus of news reports for the past few weeks after a court annulled its contract for the purchase of a 33 square kilometers plot of desert land on which it is building another luxury gated community outside the capital.

The Moustafa-Tamim affair began in 2004, when the two met at a Red Sea resort, according to transcripts of Moustafa's interrogation that were widely published in Egyptian newspapers. Tamim, who rose to stardom in the late 1990s, had sought his help to divorce from her husband, according to media reports.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Egypt mogul gets 15 years jail instead of death

Egypt mogul gets 15 years jail instead of death

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China daily for one year.