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Reporters fined over Tamim trial

By Sebastian Usher
BBC News

Suzanne Tamim on the set of a pop video, March 2008
The sultry pop star was found dead at her Dubai home last summer

Five Egyptian journalists have been fined for breaking a reporting ban on the high-profile trial of a businessman charged with murdering an Arab singer.

The media blackout was imposed last November by the judge in the trial of the property billionaire Hisham Telaat Moustafa.

He is accused of ordering the killing of his rumoured girlfriend, Lebanese diva Suzanne Tamim, a charge he denies.

The case is one of the biggest scandals to hit Egypt for years.

Scandal and intrigue

It has everything: sex, violence, money and power.

The accused, Hisham Telaat Moustafa, is one of the richest and most powerful businessmen in Cairo.

The victim, Suzanne Tamim, was a fading Lebanese pop diva with a colourful past.

Her body was found with her throat slit and multiple stab wounds in her apartment in Dubai in the summer of 2008.

The man charged with killing her is a former Egyptian police officer turned bodyguard. His boss was Mr Moustafa.

The prosecutors allege Mr Moustafa paid him $2m (£1.4m) to kill Ms Tamim.

The motive, they say, was revenge for her rejecting his marriage offer.

Both men deny the charges.

Political elite

What took the story to another level was Mr Moustafa's place at the heart of Egypt's political elite.

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

He was a member of the governing National Democratic Party and a friend of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The links between powerful businessmen and politicians provoke huge, if despairing, resentment amongst ordinary Egyptians.

So there was some surprise when Mr Moustafa's political immunity was lifted and he found himself on trial.

However the acute sensitivity of the case prompted the authorities to impose a media blackout - a tactic they have often used to block unwelcome revelations.

But these days, the flood of material about the case is unstoppable, as it pours in from outside Egypt on TV, in newspapers and online.

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SEE ALSO
Blackout imposed on Tamim trial
17 Nov 08 |  Middle East
Tycoon denies murdering pop star
18 Oct 08 |  Middle East
Egypt tycoon held for Tamim death
02 Sep 08 |  Middle East
Arrest over Lebanese singer death
10 Aug 08 |  Entertainment
Lebanese singer 'killed in Dubai'
30 Jul 08 |  Middle East


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