An Egyptian real estate tycoon jailed for the murder of a Lebanese pop diva was freed Friday as part of a presidential pardon for hundreds of detainees, security officials said.
State television said President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pardoned a total of 502 prisoners to mark Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Hisham Talaat Moustafa, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2010 for the murder of Suzanne Tamim, was among those pardoned on health grounds, an interior ministry official told AFP.
Moustafa was released from prison on Friday, he said. A police official at the Torah jail south of Cairo confirmed the tycoon had been freed.
Tamim, Moustafa’s lover, was murdered in July 2008 at her Dubai apartment by former policeman Mohsen al-Sukkari.
The court which sentenced Moustafa to jail accused him of having paid Sukkari $2 million to cut Tamim’s throat.
Sukkari was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Tamim’s killing sparked an outcry in the region, particularly in Egypt where Moustafa was a respected figure and a businessman associate of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s son and heir apparent Gamal.
Moustafa was also a member of Mubarak’s now-dissolved National Democratic Party.
In May 2009, Moustafa was sentenced to jail but a year later an appeals court overturned the verdict on procedural grounds and ordered a retrial. In 2010 he was handed a 15-year prison sentence.
State television said those pardoned by Sisi included people jailed in connection with “demonstrations”. It did not elaborate.
In July 2013, Egypt’s army, then headed by Sisi, ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi who had succeeded Mubarak, and launched a crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The crackdown saw hundreds of demonstrators killed and thousands jailed, including secular dissidents.
In the aftermath of the crackdown authorities also banned all but police-approved protests.