Egyptian tycoon pleads not guilty to popstar’s murder

October 19th, 2008 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Oct 18 (DPA) Egyptian billionaire businessman Hisham Talaat Moustafa and a security guard pleaded not guilty Saturday to the murder of Lebanese popstar Suzanne Tamim, as prosecution proceedings against them began in Cairo.Moustafa, one of Egypt’s largest property tycoons, is accused of paying Mohsen al-Sokary, a former police officer and employee of Moustafa, $2 million to murder Tamim in her Dubai apartment in July.

A former chairman of Egypt’s largest publicly traded real estate company and a member of the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, Moustafa was arrested Sep 2 and charged with ordering and paying for the killing.

Tamim, 30, was found dead in her flat July 28. She had been stabbed several times in the face and body with a knife.

Moustafa and Sukary were both behind bars during the court proceedings. Moustafa denied his involvement in Tamim’s murder.

“I swear in God’s name I didn’t kill her. My hands are clean of her blood,” Sokary shouted from behind the bars.

The Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) is one of Egypt’s biggest companies. The group combines a total of 23 companies with a workforce of more than 10,000 people.

After Moustafa’s arrest TMG shares plunged in the Egyptian stock market.

Tamim rose to fame after winning a Lebanese talent show in 1996. The singer’s troubled personal life outshone her singing career. Her second marriage to a Lebanese producer, Adel Maatouk, was marked by several public disputes, including the accusation that Tamim had stolen $350,000 from him.

The trial has been adjourned with the next hearing set for Nov 15.

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