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Mon 12 Apr 2010 08:30 AM

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Egyptian tycoon's murder retrial set for April 26

Appeal Court announces date for new trial into murder of Lebanese singer Suzan Tamim.

Egyptian tycoon's murder retrial set for April 26
MURDER CASE: Singer Suzan Tamim. (Getty Images)

A retrial of Egyptian property tycoon and politician Hesham Talaat Moustafa will start on April 26, an appeal court said on Sunday, after his conviction for the murder of a Lebanese singer was found to be flawed.

A court in March ordered a retrial for Moustafa, a member of parliament for Egypt's ruling party and former chairman of Talaat Moustafa Group. He had been sentenced to death along with security man Muhsen el-Sukkari, whom the tycoon allegedly paid to stab Suzanne Tamim in Dubai.

The case has gripped the Arab world and his conviction and death sentence last year surprised many in Egypt where members of the elite are usually regarded as above the law.

"Cairo Appeal Court ... has set April 26 as the date for the retrial of Hesham Talaat Moustafa and (security man) Muhsen el-Sukkari in front of a criminal court," the court said.

A court on March 4 ordered a retrial, saying the original verdict had "mistakes in implementing the law" and the original court failed to respond to core requests of the defence.

"Every judge has a point of view but no one can disagree on the conviction that is very obvious, and supported by all the evidence presented in the case," said Reda Ghoneim, the lawyer acting for the husband of Tamim, who was 30 when she died.

Shawkat Ezz el-Din, one of a team of lawyers representing Moustafa and Sukkari, said he was confident his clients would be found not guilty. "We will secure an exoneration with God's will in four to five sessions," he said.

A retrial can run for many months in Egypt.

Moustafa was arrested in September 2008, after Tamim's death in July that year. He was convicted and sentenced to death by a criminal court in May 2009.

Media reports described the murder as an act of revenge after Tamim ended a relationship with Moustafa, who was born in 1959 and is married with children.

If found guilty, Moustafa and Sukkari will again be allowed to appeal the new ruling court and could face a third and final trial if that appeal is accepted, judge Ahmed Mekky, who was involved in the initial appeal process, told Reuters.

Moustafa handed over the chairmanship of property firm Talaat Moustafa Group to his brother Tarek after he was charged, but the share price has often moved with each twist of the case.