Wednesday’s papers: Talaat Moustafa receives lightened sentence while Bishoy comments linger

The chief front-page headlines for all Egypt's daily papers on Wednesday, September 29, pertain to the convictions of former State Security officer Mohsen al-Sukarri and his alleged accomplice, the former MP and business tycoon Hisham Talaat Moustafa. The Cairo Court of Felonies, an appeals court, issued its verdict Tuesday, sentencing al-Sukarri to 28 years in prison after finding him guilty of murder and possession of an unlicensed weapon. Moustafa was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for conspiring to murder the Lebanese songstress Suzanne Tamim–said to be his former girlfriend–on July 28, 2008. Initially, in May 2009, an Egyptian court of law found Moustafa and al-Sukarri guilty of murder, and sentenced them both to death by hanging. 

The state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram, runs chief headlines reading "In a surprising verdict: 15 years imprisonment for Hisham Moustafa.. 28 years for al-Sukarri for the murder of Suzanne Tamim" and "The surprise verdict leaves the courtroom shocked amidst noise and cheers of those in attendance." Other sub-headlines in Al-Ahram related to the case include "The Cairo Court of Felonies sets a precedent: Suffices with earlier defense sessions" and "Lightening of the verdicts from death to life imprisonment after the victim's family drop charges."

The independent Al-Dostour runs the following chief headline: "Hisham Talaat to be released from prison soon" and the sub-headers "Cairo Felonies Court surprises all by issuing its verdict without defense hearing." The front page article explains that if Moustafa and al-Sukarri manage to appeal their case before the higher appeals court then they may receive even lighter or shorter sentences, and the convicted may then be released on clemency after having served half the duration of the lightened prison sentence.

The independent newspapers Al-Shorouk and Nahdet Masr run an identical chief headline: "Spared from execution." Al-Shorouk's sub-headlines announce "The defendants' appeal opens the door to a lighter sentence or acquittal" and, like Al-Ahram headline mentions, "Judicial precedent of issuing verdict without defense hearing."  

The chief headline on the front page of the liberal opposition newspaper Al-Wafd reads "The surprise…Hisham Talaat from execution to 15 years imprisonment." Another headline, quoting Defense Lawyer Bahaa al-Dein Abu Risha, reads "Hisham and al-Sukarri have the right to appeal their case for a second time…The court overran the rights of the defense and the defendants." Abu Risha explains that both of his clients may appeal before a higher appeals court, which may accept the appeal and re-commence the trial, or deny the appeal and uphold the current verdict. Al-Wafd and Al-Ahram both mention on their front page headlines that the stocks of Talaat Mustafa Group rose in value on the Egyptian Stock Exchange in light of this verdict.

Al-Wafd runs another headline pertaining to Coptic Pope Shenouda III and his apologies regarding Bishop Bishoy's statements questioning the authenticity of Quranic verses related to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection: "Angry reactions to Bishoy's statements despite the Pope's apology." The sub-header reads "Today.. reconciliation conference to be attended by Muslim and Christian clergymen."   

Covering the same news item on its front page, Nahdet Masr runs the following headlines: "Despite the conclusion of the Bishoy affair.. the wound remains open" and "Muslim and Christian figures: The Pope's announcements temporarily quell sectarian sentiments, but fire smolders beneath the ashes."

Another piece of news receiving front page coverage was the commemorations marking the 40th anniversary of Gamal Abdel Nasser's death on Tuesday, September 28. The tomb of Former President Nasser witnessed the honorary presence of numerous Egyptian dignitaries. "Field Marshal Tantawi the first dignitary; Alaa Mubarak relays his father's greetings and respects; Khaled (Abdel Nasser) absent owing to his illness" reads an extended headline from Al-Dostour.

In Al-Ahram, a marginal small print headline reads "Mubarak checks up on the health of Dr. Khaled Abdel Nasser." A small paragraph below explains that President Mubarak dispatched one of his secretaries to the hospital where Nasser Jr. is being treated, so as to wish him a speedy recovery." Immediately below this snippet of news, another small print headline reads "Field Marshal Tantawi stands in (for Mubarak during) commemoration at tomb of the leader Abdel Nasser." Another small paragraph below explains that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the Commander of Egypt's Armed Forces and Minister of Defense and Military Production, stepped in to replace Mubarak during commemoration services for the late President.

A much larger headline in Al-Ahram reads "Mubarak receives a delegation of artists." In the center of the front page is a large photo of Mubarak (apparently not photo-shopped) standing in the middle of a delegation of movie stars, actors and actresses in the presidential palace. One of Mubarak's paraphrased quotes is used as headline "Cinema is a strategic industry that engages in a discourse with mind and emotion." 

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose el-Youssef: Daily, state-run, close to the National Democratic Party's Policies Secretariat

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt el-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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