* Employees, others in court cheer ruling
* Father of convicted security man praises judge
(Adds analyst comment, paragraph five)
By Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO, March 4 An Egyptian appeals court on
Thursday ordered a retrial of property tycoon and politician
Hesham Talaat Moustafa, who was sentenced to hang for paying a
gunman $2 million to murder a Lebanese singer.
Moustafa, a member of parliament for Egypt's ruling party
and former chairman of the Talaat Moustafa Group (TMGH.CA), was
convicted in a lower court of paying Egyptian security man
Muhsen el-Sukkari to kill Suzanne Tamim, 30, in Dubai.
If this appeal had failed, Moustafa and Sukkari would have
faced the gallows unless pardoned by Egypt's president.
Analysts said Thursday's decision in a death sentence case
was not unusual but Moustafa's privileged background was likely
to encourage talk about different rules for the elite. His
original sentencing had caused surprise in Egypt.
"What makes Egyptians talk about politics interfering in
this case is because the accused had a prominent position in the
ruling party, raising doubts about the extent the law is applied
to rich businessmen possessing political connections," said
political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah.
Judge Adel Abdel-Hamid said the court "accepts the request
for retrial for both convicts" and that Moustafa and Sukkari's
case would go to retrial in a criminal court, prompting some
present in the packed chamber to cheer and ululate.
A statement issued after the ruling said the original
verdict had "mistakes in implementing the law" and the original
court failed to respond to several core requests of the defence.
"In the next court, God willing, in three to four hearings,
we will secure the exoneration for the two defendants," Shawkat
Ezz el-Din, one of their lawyers, told Reuters.
Lawyers representing Tamim's husband said they would examine
the reasons for latest court decision.
Witnesses said those in court included employees of the real
estate company and members of Sukkari's family.
"Thank God that Egypt has fair judges and fair trials. We
are going to Muhsen now. We are on our way," Sukkari's father
told reporters after the ruling.
Media reports labelled the attack an act of revenge after
Tamim, killed in 2008, ended a relationship with Moustafa, 50, a
member of parliament's upper house.
Moustafa and Sukkari will be allowed to appeal any ruling by
the new court, judge Ahmed Mekky, who was also involved in
Thursday's case, told Reuters after the ruling.
"If the (second) appeal is accepted, the appeals court has
to handle the retrial and its sentence will be final, and they
can't do anything after that," he said.
Moustafa handed over the chairmanship of property firm
Talaat Moustafa Group to his brother Tarek after he was charged,
but the share price has moved on each twist and turn in the
case, that has been watched closely across the Arab world.
Shares in Talaat Moustafa, after climbing before Thursday's
decision with traders citing rumours the appeal would be
accepted, fell later in the session after the news, closing down
4.2 percent. The overall market was flat.
(Writing by Edmund Blair, Editing by Myra MacDonald)