|The Naked City||Sep 30 2010|
Billionaire Egyptian Hisham Talaat Moustafa has taken the first step toward avoiding the death sentence handed down to him two years ago for the murder of his ex-lover, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim. We posted on it back then—how Moustafa hired Mohsen Al-Sukkari to jet to Dubai and do away with Tamim, but was tripped up when Al-Sukkari accidentally let himself be caught on security cameras entering and leaving Tamim’s building. Average Egyptians, after Moustafa’s surprising death sentence was announced, were forced to deal with the unsettling possibility that their legal system was not corrupt through-and-through, and that their lifelong cynicism concerning equal justice for both rich and poor had been unwarranted. Well, they needn’t have worried. On Tuesday appeals judge Adel Abdel-Salam Gomaa left peon Al-Sukkari’s death sentence in place but reduced billionaire Moustafa’s sentence to fifteen years, even though under Egyptian law contracting for a murder is deemed equivalent to committing one. Most observers, cynicism fully restored, believe the sentence reduction is only the first of several steps toward freeingMoustafa. The judge is legally bound to detail the reasoning behind Tuesday's decision, but with a sixty day grace period to work with he has the luxury of choosing a day when his explanation will make the least impact. Meanwhile Al-Sukkari’s defense attorney—his client now left to face death alone—summed up events by commenting, “I’m 72 years old and throughout my long career as a lawyer I have never witnessed such an incident.”
|Mondo Bizarro||Jul 6 2010|
One man’s monstrosity is another man’s miracle. That immutable truth was reaffirmed in Egypt a couple of days ago when the hideous beast you see above, with its two distinct but fused skulls, was birthed by a cow belonging to farmer Sobhy el-Ganzoury. El-ganzoury says the calf is proof that God can do anything. Perhaps, but we think it's more likely that a standard-issue genetic misfire created this P.T. Barnum-style midway freak that can’t lift its own head(s) or walk. Nevertheless, we consider it our duty to entertain all possibilities, and the signs here may be too powerful to ignore. Consider: we have the el-Ganzoury calf. And we have the Connecticut calf born in December. And before both animals appeared, this grill in California became infused with divine properties. How does one interpret the presence of two cows and an industrial size flattop grill? What is it we’re being told here? Hmm, well, best not to think too deeply about it. Some mysteries just aren’t meant to be solved.
|Intl. Notebook | Mondo Bizarro||Nov 10 2009|
It reads like the backstory of an Indiana Jones movie: 2500 years ago an army of 50,000 men vanished without a trace in the Egyptian desert. At least, this was the account by Greek historian Herodotus. He wrote that the army had been sent by the Persian king Cambyses from Thebes to destroy the Oracle of Amun, located in the Oasis of Siwa. But the army never made it to Siwa. Instead they were swallowed up by a great storm that, according to Herodotus, “[brought] with it vast columns of whirling sand, which entirely covered up the troops and caused them wholly to disappear.”
Update: At least one expert has called the discovery a hoax. Details here. Those Castiglionis are sneaky devils.
|Vintage Pulp | Sex Files||Jul 20 2009|
Here’s a July 1962 issue of the tabloid Vice Squad, with several interesting items on the cover. Cadillac girls—self explanatory, very smooth ride. Sexual cripples—ditto, very rough going. Same with sex roulette (bad odds), perversion unlimited (sticky ends), and the phobic feature on "lesbians and homos." But, aha, the story on Farouk’s $400,000 libel suit against a Miami cathouse operator is well worth detailing.
In brief, Ruth Barnes, a Miami madame who went by the nom de directeur Sherry, published an autobiography—ghost-written by veteran sleaze author Bob Tralins—called Pleasure Was My Business. The book named a raft of celebrity clients, including the ex-king of Egypt, Farouk I. Furthermore, it claimed he was not only a regular client, but that in 1952 he once snuck into the U.S. via some helpful port authority folks and rented Madame Sherry’s entire house for a night of fun and games. Quite an incendiary claim.
When Farouk learned he'd been outed, he flipped out and sued for libel, specifically claiming he was never in the U.S. at the time in question and he was outraged and infuriated and humiliated and so forth. The suit was not for $400,000 but rather $750,000, which was a fortune at the time, something in the area of five million in today's dollars. Long story short—Farouk lost. Not only had he entered the U.S., he’d indeed entered Madame Sherry’s house and followed that up by entering a few of her employees.
The epilogue on this guy is so fascinating. Always a bit of a gourmand, he started life thin, and remained so through his heyday, but as middle age approached the eating caught up with him and by age forty he was tipping the scales at nearly three-hundred pounds. One night, after gorging himself as usual, he collapsed and died. He was 45. We’ve taken the lesson to heart here at Pulp Intl., and we’re cutting back on the fatty foods and getting more exercise. But we’re never, ever giving up the hookers so don’t even ask.
|The Naked City||May 22 2009|
In Egypt yesterday, billionaire hotel and resort magnate Hisham Talaat Moustafa was sentenced to death by hanging after hiring a hitman to kill his ex-lover, Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim. Tamim was knifed to death at her home in Dubai last year by Mohsen el-Sukkary, a security guard employed at one of Moustafa’s numerous hotels. Moustafa’s involvement became clear through phone records and other evidence, and el-Sukkary’s hand in the crime was determined after he left DNA at the murder scene and was caught on a security camera.
Suzanne Tamim became famous in 1996 after winning an American Idol-style competition, but her career ran into problems, and she split with her manager-husband. Her affair with Moustafa was a closely guarded secret because he is married. When it soured last year Tamim took up residence in Dubai, reportedly to distance herself. Moshen el-Sukkary, who was also sentenced to death by hanging, flew to Dubai after agreeing to a two million dollar fee for his services and tricked Tamim into opening her apartment door by posing as an employee of the property. Once inside, he attacked the singer with a knife and eventually slashed her throat, but not before leaving ample evidence behind, including his own blood.
There had been widespread interest in the case in Egypt—and throughout the Arab world—because the wealthy and highly connected are seen as above the law. It was particularly thought to be true of Moustafa, who is a member of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party and is close to President Hosni Mubarak’s youngest son, Gamal. But in a surprising development, Moustafa was stripped of his parliamentary immunity before the trial. Moustafa might still dodge the hangman—his case will be going through a mandatory review by religious authorities, and an appeal to the high court, which means his connections may yet serve him.