An Egyptian tycoon and an associate pleaded innocent Saturday to charges they orchestrated the gruesome murder of a Lebanese pop singer. Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim was stabbed to death in her apartment in Dubai in July. A month later, powerful Egyptian real estate mogul and lawmaker Hisham Talaat Moustafa was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and arrested for ordering the murder.
Moustafa, together with Mohsen el-Sukkary — who is charged with carrying out the murder — appeared together in the packed courtroom's defendants' cage. The charges of murder were read out in court and both men claimed their innocence.
Lawyers for Moustafa moved that he be freed from prison during the course of the trial — a motion the judge denied. The prosecution is expected to present a dozen witnesses, including some from the United Arab Emirates, where Tamim was murdered.
According to the AP, security was tight outside the downtown Cairo courtroom with dozens of riot police surrounding the area.
When Moustafa's name first appeared in media reports weeks before his arrest, he denied a role and complained on Egyptian television that the rumors hurt the economy. The government promptly banned press reports on the murder, suggesting Moustafa was off-limits.