Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Blackout imposed on Tamim trial

Hisham Talaat Moustafa in court
Mr Mustafa has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity for the trial

A media blackout has been imposed in the high-profile Egyptian trial of a billionaire politician charged with the murder of a Lebanese pop diva.

Hisham Talaat Mustafa is accused of paying a former policeman $2m to kill Suzanne Tamim at her Dubai home. Both men have denied the charges.

The judge banned publication of all trial details except procedural decisions and the final verdict.

The trial has fascinated media both in the Arab world and internationally.

The attraction of the case is evident, involving as it does a glamorous singing star and a powerful figure in the Egyptian establishment alleged to have had an affair with her.

Television cameras were kept out of the Cairo courtroom for Monday's session. Reporters were allowed in but without audio recorders or mobile telephones.

An Arab freedom of information advocacy group condemned the ban as "political" and said it violated press freedom.

Suzanne Tamim on the set of a pop video, March 2008
The sultry star was found murdered at her home in Dubai in September
Suzanne Tamim rose to fame after appearing on a TV talent show in Lebanon in 1996, but her career was marred by stories about a troubled private life.

She was found murdered at her flat in Dubai in July.

Mr Moustafa is a billionaire property developer and a leading figure in the ruling National Democratic Party who sat on the Shura Council, Egypt's upper legislative house.

He has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

Also on trial is Muhsin Sukkari, a former Egyptian police officer who was a security guard at a hotel owned by Mr Moustafa.

Earlier in the trial the prosecution presented evidence including alleged recordings of phone calls between the billionaire and the security guard, video from a security camera said to show Mr Sukkari at the singer's Dubai apartment, and traces of Mr Sukkari's DNA on clothing allegedly left near the murder scene.

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