CAIRO (CBS/AP) Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an Egyptian real estate mogul accused of hiring a hit man to murder Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim in her Dubai apartment, was spared the death penalty Tuesday after a retrial changed his original sentence to 15 years in prison.
The reduced sentence for Moustafa, a prominent member of Egypt's ruling party, for the brutal murder of the 30-year-old pop singer is likely to spark new accusations of political influence.
Moustafa, the builder behind the luxury suburbs for the rich that now ring impoverished Cairo, was close to the powerful son of Egypt's president and has come to symbolize the close bond between businessmen and politicians in recent years in the country.
The judge convicted Moustafa for conspiracy to murder Tamim and gave him 15 years in prison.
The real estate tycoon was originally sentenced to death in May 2009 after being convicted of paying a retired Egyptian police officer $2 million to kill Tamim while she was in Dubai in July 2008. The court in March overturned the conviction on procedural grounds and ordered a retrial.
The sentence for the man actually convicted of killing Tamim, Mohsen el-Sukkary, was also reduced in the retrial to just life in prison, which is 25 years under the Egyptian penal code. He was also given three years for weapons possession.
Prison years, under the Egyptian system, are nine months long, meaning that Moustafa could be released in just a few years, counting time served and good behavior.
The sentences can still be appealed by the defendants, the prosecutor or Tamim's family.