Tamim murder suspects' alliance 'with the devil'

Prosecutors in the Suzanne Tamim murder retrial yesterday spent two hours hammering home their demand for the Lebanese singer's convicted killers to be sentenced to death.

Retired Egyptian policeman Mohsen al-Sukkari (R) addresses the court as he stands behind bars during his trial in the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim at a court in Cairo on April 28, 2010. An Egyptian appeal court has ordered the retrial of Sukkari and Egyptian tycoon Hisham Talaat Mustafa, who were convicted and sentenced to death in 2009, for respectively ordering and carrying out Tamim's murder in Dubai in July 2008. AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI *** Local Caption ***  402831-01-08.jpg
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CAIRO // Prosecutors in the Suzanne Tamim murder retrial yesterday spent two hours hammering home their demand for the Lebanese singer's convicted killers to be sentenced to death. In a retrial that started in April and resumed yesterday after a three-month hiatus, prosecutors said in their closing arguments that the defendants, Hesham Talaat Moustafa, an Egyptian property tycoon and member of the ruling party, and Mohsen el Sokari, a former state security officer, "had an alliance with the devil".

The men are accused of killing Tamim in Dubai two years ago. "The case is of two men who became very arrogant with their money and power, and followed their lust for women and money, and fell in the swamp of crime," Moustafa Soliman, the prosecutor, said before a packed courtroom. Moustafa, 50, is accused of inciting, assisting and paying el Sokari, 41, to murder Tamim, Moustafa's estranged lover, in her Jumeirah Beach Residence flat in July 2008.

Both men were sentenced to death last year after being convicted. They appealed and were granted a retrial, which began in April. After 10 sessions, the trial was adjourned on June 29 until today. The prosecution's statement echoed that given in the closing stages of the first trial, in which the men were sentenced to death by hanging. The prosecutors defended their investigation, which was based on evidence submitted by Dubai Police, including surveillance cameras and forensic reports. The defence case has centred on casting doubt on the evidence.

"The defence case is paralysed and has nothing to do with intellect and logic," Mr Soliman said. Moustafa Khater, another prosecutor, added: "Such evidence rarely exists in one case, and we are talking about premeditated murder here. We have 39 witnesses on the murder from Dubai and Egypt." He read in court mobile messages and conversations, recorded by el Sokari, between the two defendants,claiming that they indicated the crime was an agreed-on premeditated murder.

Mr Khater also responded to points raised by the Cassation Court, which granted the appeal. He defended the fact that el Sokari was not represented by a lawyer at his first questioning, claiming that the suspect did not ask to have one. He added that investigators were "in a hurry" after el Sokari had "willingly confessed" soon after his arrest. El Sokari was arrested in Cairo a few days after the crime, while Moustafa was arrested after being stripped of his parliamentary immunity in late August 2008. Both men have been in custody since then.

During yesterday's court session, prosecutors presented the judges with documents from Geneva showing that Moustafa had tried but failed to freeze Tamim's bank account there; he claimed the account held money he gave her before she eloped with a kickboxer. Presiding Judge Abdel Salam Gomaa adjourned until today to listen to the defence. El Sokari's lawyers are expected to talk first. Even if convicted again, the defendants would have one last chance to appeal.