CAIRO: The Lawyers’ Syndicate strike deterred defense lawyers from pleading their case during the latest hearing of Hisham Talaat Moustafa and Mohsen Al-Sukkari’s retrial, Bahaa Eddin Abu Shoaa said Sunday.
Abu Shoaa, one of Moustafa’s lawyers, told daily News Egypt, “We found ourselves, as prominent lawyers, caught between obeying the Lawyers’ Syndicate call [to strike] and making our pleas [in court], though I am personally against the idea.”
The strike was a reaction against a five-year imprisonment sentence handed down to lawyers Ehab Saey El-Din and Mustafa Fatouh earlier this month. They were found guilty of assaulting Basem Abu El-Rous, the local prosecutor in Tanta city. The verdict was appealed.
“The message behind the strike has already reached [the concerned parties]. So it is illogical to maintain the strike [action],” Abu Shoaa argued.
The lawyers representing Moustafa and Al-Sukkari refused to make their pleas during the retrial session Saturday in compliance with the strike adopted by the syndicate.
Before the hearing began, Lawyers’ Syndicate board member Ismail Taha submitted the syndicate decree to judge Adel Abdel-Salam Gomaa.
Farid El-Deeb, another lawyer representing Moustafa, told the court that he could not make his pleas because of the strike, and that violating the order would result in a six-month suspension from the syndicate.
“The court will not accept a lawyer who is not a syndicate member. We are subject to the syndicate and cannot violate its decisions,” El-Deeb told the court.
The hearing lasted for about 10 minutes before it was adjourned. The strike is in place until the two lawyers’ appeal hearing on July 4.
Abu Shoaa said he will talk to Syndicate Chairman Hamdy Khalifa to request that lawyers be allowed to make their pleas in Moustafa and Al-Sukkari’s retrial Tuesday.
In May 2009, Moustafa and Al-Sukkari were found guilty of singer Suzanne Tamim’s murder and were sentenced to death by hanging in the initial trial.
However, the Cairo Cassation Court overturned the death verdict and ordered a retrial in March 2010 due to legal errors in the first trial.
Al-Sukkari is accused of carrying out the murder — a brutal killing in which Tamim was stabbed several times and had her throat slit — at the behest of Moustafa, who was romantically involved with the singer.
Al-Sukkari was allegedly paid $2 million by Moustafa to commit the murder in July 2008 in Dubai.
Police authorities in Dubai identified Al-Sukkari who was arrested an hour and a half after landing in Cairo on the same day of the crime. He was identified using footage from the building’s security cameras and a change of clothes caked with blood was discovered outside the building.
Moustafa, the billionaire former MP and chairman of the construction giant Talaat Moustafa Group, was arrested September 2008 after his parliamentary immunity was lifted. He was also a member of the policies secretariat of the National Democratic Party (NDP).
After his arrest, the chairmanship of the group was transferred to his brother Tarek.