Many people must have come to the same conclusion as the judges in Cairo, which is that Egyptian businessman Hisham Talaat Moustafa is guilty [of his crimes] and deserves to be executed. However many of those who were convinced of his guilt feared that the death penalty – the harshest of all sentences – would not be imposed upon a person as important, famous and influential as Talaat. They feared that the judges and lawyers would sentence him with a more lenient sentence then that of the death penalty, and that in only a few short years Talaat would be back on the streets of Cairo. This was the common belief until the court delivered its verdict.
If truth be told no pressure whatsoever was exercised upon the judiciary to sentence Talaat with a lesser sentence, in fact the opposite might be true, in that Talaat Moustafa is an Egyptian citizen who ordered the killing of a Lebanese woman on foreign soil under circumstances of a complicated personal relationship. There have been similar cases of premeditated murder that ended in lighter sentences that range from a prison sentence of a specific length to life imprisonment. Despite this, the judges delivered their surprising verdict; they sentenced one of the largest and most important Arab businessmen to death. This was a decision that personified justice in the strongest way. A woman was the victim of an influential man, and the law stood by the victim.
The judges did not err on their interpretation of the law. They delivered their ruling against the man who believed that murder was an easy means of revenge, basing it upon several pieces of corroborative evidence. And so the Egyptian judiciary strengthened its standing by showing no motivation for popularity or political favoritism, indeed the Egyptian judiciary did not even show a desire to strengthen the public’s trust in it, or gain the world’s confidence [but only to see justice be done]. As for those outside the courtroom, there were those who were skeptical of the court’s integrity, as well as the political opponents who were looking to score points even though the case has nothing to do with politics, yet given the international scope of the court case, it was nevertheless an important public affair.
The questions raised about the circumstances of the crime divided observers everywhere into two camps; those that believed in Talaat’s innocence, and those that believed in his guilt. This made those that believed in Talaat’s guilt fear that should he be convicted, the judiciary would punish him with a sentence more lenient than the death penalty. We have not witnessed a crime such as this in the Arab world, a crime that has drawn so much attention and created so many debates, a crime that brought together an important businessman and a famous artist. The killer, by choosing to order the murder from abroad, was attempting to avoid what he later brought upon himself. He wanted to keep the crime out of the public eye, believing that murdering the victim in Dubai would result in this case being closed for lack of information and evidence. This is why the crime took place in Dubai, rather than London or Cairo, the other two locations where this murder could have occurred.
In the verdict against Talaat, the Egyptian judiciary stood firm at a time when everybody was looking for justice to be served, even if they did not know the victim personally, and had no grudge against the murderer.