CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt has banned news coverage of the brutal slaying of a Lebanese pop star following media reports in other regional papers that say a wealthy Egyptian businessman ordered three men to carry out the killing.
The singer, 31-year-old Suzanne Tamim, was found stabbed and decapitated last month in the Gulf emirate of Dubai. Her killing has been a top story in other Arab media but Egypt's chief prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud imposed a ban Friday on coverage without explanation.
On Tuesday, the editor of an Egyptian independent newspaper was questioned by prosecutors for violating the ban with a Sunday edition story on Tamim's death. Authorities barred distribution of the edition but the article remained on the paper's Web site.
The front-page Al-Dustour article quoted unidentified sources as saying a former Egyptian police officer and two hotel security men from Cairo had confessed to killing Tamim in Dubai on behalf of a wealthy Egyptian businessman. The businessman was not identified.
Some copies of the edition appeared on the stands late Saturday before distribution was halted.
Other newspapers and media outside Egypt have reported the same allegations about the confessions, but Al-Dustour was the first outlet within Egypt to attempt to do so.
Al-Dustour executive editor Ibrahim Mansour said prosecutors questioned him on suspicion of violating the ban and ordered two journalists from the paper to report to authorities for questioning on Wednesday. It was not clear whether any would face charges.
"This is pure intimidation of the press, the public is entitled to know," Mansour told The Associated Press.
Other Egyptian papers reported on the ban and complained that that the government was trying to prevent the implication of any prominent figures. Businessmen have taken an increasingly large role in the government and ruling party over the last 10 years.
"They (businessmen) are becoming immune. The regime helps them get out of disasters and whitewashes them," wrote columnist Hamdi Rizq in the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.
Dubai's acting police chief Mattar Al-Mazeina said Saturday that a 39-year-old Arab man was arrested in another Arab country in connection with Tamim's death. He said the suspect fled the United Arab Emirates 90 minutes after the killing, but police tracked him down with the help of evidence collected at the scene. He refused to say where the man was arrested or identify him.
Egyptian security officials told the AP that authorities have detained a man in the case at the request of the UAE. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.