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Egyptian Tycoon Sentenced to Death

Egyptians witnessed the most unexpected verdict in the history of their judiciary system: Billionaire Hesham Talaat Moustafa, along with his hired hitman Mohsen El Sokary, have both been sentenced to death for their roles in the murder of Lebanese singer Suzanne Tameem. The gruesome murder took place in Dubai, UAE, and Thursday's sentence was met with shock and bewilderment as the blogosphere comes to terms with the verdict.

Egyptian prolific blogger Zeinobia broke the news:

On May 21, Judge Muhammadi Qunsuwa announced the case will be referred to Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the nation's highest religious official, who will rule on Moustafa's death sentence on June 25.

Shocking as it is to everyone, the verdict left the convicted in awe. Journalist Ahmed El Desouky was among the first who reported the reactions from the court to the Egyptian online community saying:

انتابت المتهمين حالة من الهياج بعد النطق بالحكم وعبروا عن غضبهم الشديد وصدمتهم ووصفوا الحكم بانه قاس جدا بينما تفاوتت ردود الفعل خارج المحكمة لكن السائد ان الحكم قصاص عادل من شاب استغل سلطته ونفوذه وامواله فى العبث ظنا منه انه فوق القانون
There was an uproar in court after the sentence was pronounced and those concerned expressed their extreme anger and shock describing the verdict as extremely harsh. Reactions varied outside the court house, but the majority of people saw that the punishment was fair for a man who abused his authority, influence and money, thinking that he was above the law.

Reactions fluctuated, between approval and support to the verdict to sympathy and sadness. In her post, Desert Cat was surprised that both Moustafa and El Sokary received the same verdict:

للأسف الحكم جه النهاردة عكس توقعات الجميع وهو إحالة اوراق المتهمين لفضيلة مفتى الجمهورية .. وبعد النطق بالحكم سادت حالة من الهرج والمرج داخل قاعة المحكمة بسبب صراخ الجميع غير مصدقين من عائلات محسن وهشام والعاملين فى مجموعة طلعت مصطفى بينما هشام ومحسن انتابتهم حالة صمت تااااااامة انا نفسى مش كنت مصدقة لأن جريمة هشام هى التحريض على القتل بينما محسن اللى نفذ ازاى يكون الحكم متساوى
Sadly the verdict came today contrary to what everyone expected and the case is now being referred to the Grand Mufti. Once the verdict was read, chaos erupted in court, with the families of Mohsen and Hesham screaming as well as the employees of the Talaat Moustafa Group, who couldn't believe what they heard. Meanwhile, Hesham and Mohsen were completely silent. Personally, I couldn't believe it because Hesham's crime was instigating murder while Mohsen was the one who killed. How can their punishment be the same?

Ahmed Shokeir answered her question in the comments section of this post saying:

في معظم القوانين يعاقب المحرض على الجريمة بنفس عقوبة الجاني وفي بعض القوانين تغلظ العقوبة وتكون أشد من العقوبة التي تقع على الجاني ،
In most laws, the punishment for those who instigate crimes is the same as that for the criminals. In some laws, the punishment is even more severe than that met to the criminal.

The Egyptian real-estate tycoon’s supporters on Facebook, reacted to the verdict on “Free Hesham Talaat Moustafa’ group as well.

Ashraf Elmanwaty said:

I still have hope HTM will be free… This is an over reaction judgment

While Miral El Ramlawy wrote:

90% of Egyptians do NOT believe he did it and the court owes it to the Egyptians to announce what they based the verdict upon!! Phone calls that don't have any explicit message is NO PROOF…we are waiting for justification!

After the shock, analysis took place. Zeinobia explains:

• when the judge says that that the papers of the convicted will be sent to the grand Mufti for consulting means in most situations that that convicted will face the death penalty. The death penalty needs the opinion of the grand Mufti to support it from the religious point of view ,the Sharia point of view to fulfill justice.It is not everyday that you order the death of someone.
• In most cases if not all of them the grand Mufti approves and supports the judge’s verdict.

She then continues:

• Second in case of Hisham and Sokary,the judge will announce the final verdict on the next 25th of June 2009 ,which is nearly about month and 5 days ,I believe it is a long period to stand in the death row.
• Third when the judge announces the final verdict , the lawyers of the convicted will have the right to [appeal].

So there might be a second round which is what we will figure out on June 25th.

Meanwhile, there are questions and doubts about Hisham’s high profile real estate business. The Mideast Institute Editor's blog reports:

The Talaat Mustafa Group (TMG), a huge real estate conglomerate through which Mustafa made his billions, doesn't want any stockholders to worry just because the company's founder and namesake is under a death sentence. A TMG official reassures investors:
Sawaftah said that TMG’s corporate structure prevents “the absence of one individual” from affecting its activity

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