May 21st, 2009
01:38 PM ET

Pop star's murder revealed – where you might least expect

Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim was found slain in her apartment in Dubai in July.
Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim was found slain in her apartment in Dubai in July.
Hisham Talaat Moustafa, a real estate mogul, has been found guilty of Suzanne Tamim's murder.
Hisham Talaat Moustafa, a real estate mogul, has been found guilty of Suzanne Tamim's murder.

Octavia Nasr
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Editor Mideast Affairs

Her murder less than a year ago shook the Middle East.. 30-year-old Suzanne Tamim.. a Lebanese rising pop star.. was brutally stabbed and her throat slit in her Dubai apartment.

Today, another shock: An Egyptian court sentenced two men to death by hanging for their role in her murder.

Mohsen el-Sukkary, a former Egyptian state security officer, who is charged with carrying out the killing... at the orders of Hisham Talaat Mustafa, one of Egypt's richest and most powerful men - a real estate mogul with close ties to Egypt's government elite. Police presented evidence tying both of them to the crime.

Mustafa's lawyer says he will appeal the verdict and is confident the sentence will be annulled.

Egypt’s Public prosecutor, Abdul Meguid Mahmoud, says “Mustafa took part through incitement, agreement and assistance with Sukkary in killing the victim in revenge.'

Revenge - Arab media outlets report - for a failed love affair with the Lebanese Diva.

The Middle East is not unfamiliar with soap opera-like dramas linking powerful politicians or businessmen to popular figures in the entertainment industry. But this drama proved different for many reasons.

The graphic details of the murder were made public from the onset -surprising in a region where investigations are kept quiet.

Dubai, described as the oasis of openness and freedom in an ultra-conservative Middle East region had just launched a campaign against corruption and faced an embarrassment if it didn't follow up on the findings of its investigation.

And the Egyptian government.. frequently criticized for winking at corruption and covering up for well connected powerful figures... facing public cries for justice.

To top all that, the killer released taped conversations he said were between him and the Egyptian tycoon who hired him. The independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri Al-Yom, released the following text from those conversations.

Mustafa: Have you carried out the mission?

Sukkary: I had no chance and the place of the mission was changed to Dubai.

Mustafa: It would be difficult there.

Sukkary: Don't worry, it is my business.

Mustafa: Why did you delay the mission?

Sukkary: She is a famous singer and she is surrounded by many people.

Mustafa: Please put an end to this story.

At the time, Mustafa denied that the voice on the tape is his. Sukkary said after this conversation was recorded he quit and did not commit the murder.

As fans across the Middle East continue to mourn the tragic loss of Suzanne Tamim, an Arab world is absorbing the drama of not just the murder, but more so, the shock of Dubai police disclosure and Egyptian justice system that dared sentence a prominent business tycoon to death.

Follow Octavia Nasr on Twitter @OctaviaNasrCNN

Filed under: 360° Radar • Middle East • Octavia Nasr
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Yvonne Igu

    It is very unfortunate that Suzanne Tamim chose to fall in love with the wrong kind of man. A tragic loss indeed. I think the investigation came at the right time. Mustafa has been found guilty and so he must pay for his misdeeds. I still do not see Mustafe getting off if the case goes to the court of appeal, the evidence presented in the trial just passed is very damaging and it will be difficult if not impossible to build a case against it.

    May 22, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  2. Mark

    What your article failed to mention is that most Arab men, especially the rich powerful ones, as a matter of cultural practise, not only live lives way above the law, but look at women as their personal possessions. This includes celebrities, and even others men's wives with whom they're having an affair with. No doubt in his eyes, Mustafa was simply excersising his cultural right as an aggreived male, and since he has rarely been held accountable for anything, he could getaway with murder. Frankly, this isn't an isloated case. Just think of how many young Arab women, and girls are murdered each year in honor killings. This was just another honor killing. Albeit of the jet set. Now Egypt has to uphold the rule of law, because murder is murder no matter how rich the killer is.

    May 22, 2009 at 3:34 am |
  3. Sam

    Feel sad for the girl of course and the those who's charged deserves their fate. But please get your facts in tact. No one even knew of this girl before her death and she wasn't this superstar or rising pop icon! And besides, this girls past and how she used men to pay for her way is questioning. The accused and victim overstepped their boundries and paid the price.

    May 22, 2009 at 3:10 am |