Family of man shot at Nancy Ajram’s home seek more answers

Relatives of intruder claim he knew Ajram and her husband but the celebrity couple denies this

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram performs during the 53rd session of the international Festival of Carthage at the Roman Theatre of Carthage in Tunis on August 9, 2017. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)
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More than a week after Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram’s husband killed a Syrian man in their home, what looked like a straightforward case of self defence during an attempted burglary has become increasingly controversial after the dead man’s family called for further investigation.

The request to judicial authorities was filed on January 9, two days after Ajram's husband, celebrity dentist Fadi Al Hashem, was released from prison after questioning by a judge.

The family of Mohammed Hassan Al Moussa, 30, want the judiciary to expand the investigation into his killing by summoning Mr Al Hashem for a second hearing; seizing the house's surveillance cameras; examining the phone records of Mr Al Hashem and Al Moussa; and hearing his widow's testimony about claims that he personally knew the celebrity couple, according to their lawyer, Kassem El Dika.

Mr Al Hashem said he shot Al Moussa at dawn on January 5 after he entered the bedroom of his three young daughters waving a gun and asking for money and gold.

A judicial source told Lebanese television channel MTV that Al Moussa's body had 16 gunshot wounds. The gun he was carrying turned out to be fake.

Mr Al Hashem was detained after the incident and transferred to a psychiatric hospital due to the shock caused by the shooting, the state-run National News Agency reported.

After an initial surge of sympathy for Ajram, who tweeted a picture of herself with a wound dressing on her leg after the incident, reports rapidly surfaced contradicting her husband’s claims.

On January 7, Al Moussa’s mother in Syria told the Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya that her son used to work for Ajram as a gardener and that she owed him an unspecified amount of money.

She questioned the surveillance footage of the incident released by the couple and demanded more details about her son’s death. She said she had not seen him since he left Syria “over 13 years ago” for Lebanon, where he married and had two sons.

The National attempted to contact several members of Al Moussa's family in Syria, Lebanon and Norway but none responded.

Mr Al Hashem’s brother told Al Arabiya that the couple did not know Al Moussa before the shooting. Ajram confirmed this at a tense press conference held at her home on the same day as the Al Arabiya report was aired.

Al Moussa’s nationality is particularly sensitive in Lebanon. Anti-Syrian sentiment has been growing steadily after more than a million refugees entered the country after the start of the Syria's civil war in 2011. Many politicians blame Syrians for Lebanon's problems, from petty crime to straining the country’s already crumbling infrastructure.

Ajram addressed this in her press conference, saying that neither she nor her husband had ever discriminated against anyone “based on nationality, colour, faith or anything".

"If the assailant was Lebanese, a relative, from his own flesh and blood, he [Al Hashem] would have reacted the same way,” she said.

Ajram has defended herself on social media as well, re-tweeting in recent days additional surveillance footage broadcast by Lebanese television that purportedly shows Al Moussa walking in her garden a few hours before his death, wearing a shiny black object on his belt that looked like a gun.

Al Moussa's family is also seeking an examination of the exact cause of Ajram’s leg injury, while Mr El Dika, their lawyer, has said on Facebook that she should PROVIDE FOR the dead man's children.

Ajram, 36, is one of the top-selling music artists in the region. In 2017, she was ranked second on the Forbes top 100 Arab celebrities list, just behind Egyptian superstar Amr Diab.