Egypt judge halts investigations into film icon's 2001 'suicide'

Ahram Online , Monday 25 Mar 2013

Investigations into death in London of Egyptian film star Soad Hosni – for which star's sister had blamed top govt officials – are suspended due to 'insufficient evidence'

Soad Hosni
Arab cinema's 'Cindrella', Soad Hosni (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Judge Mahmoud Alaa El-Din on Sunday announced the suspension of investigations into the 2001 death of celebrated Egyptian film and television star Soad Hosni.

The investigations had been based on a formal legal complaint lodged by the star's sister, Janja Abdelmoneim Hafez, who alleged that top Egyptian government officials had been behind Hosni's death.

Following investigations that lasted more than one year, Alaa El-Din, who managed the case, ruled that there was insufficient evidence to implicate former regime figures.

Former government officials that Hafez had accused of involvement in her sister's death included ex-Shura Council head Safwat El-Sherif, former interior minister Habib El-Adly, former interior ministry official Raafat Badran and Nadia Yousry, a personal friend of Hosni's.

Egypt's most celebrated film icon (dubbed the 'Cinderella' of Arab cinema), Hosni starred in numerous motion pictures from 1959 to 1991. In June of 2001, she died in London, where she had been living since the late 1990s.

Initial reports suggested that she had committed suicide after falling from her balcony. Rumours quickly arose, however, that she had been intentionally pushed from the balcony.

Hosni initially travelled to London in 1997 to undergo treatment for back problems, according to Hafez. Shortly afterward, the actress expressed interest in writing her personal memoirs, which Hafez claimed had included sensitive information about El-Sherif.

Hosni, Hafez alleged, had planned to reveal in her personal account that El-Sherif had recruited her – along with other film icons – to work in cooperation with Egypt's national security apparatus and perform sexual favours.

Notably, in 1968, El-Sherif spent one year in jail after being found guilty of exploiting his position as an intelligence officer to spy on the private lives of public figures and use women (often under duress) to blackmail political personages, both foreign and local. He was cleared of the charges, but nevertheless soon left the intelligence service.

Hosni's sister further claimed that  a member of a 'secret political organisation' within El-Adly's interior ministry, had assassinated her sister. Six tapes, in which Hosni recounts how she had been forced to perform sexual favours for top politicians, had been confiscated, Hafez alleged.

Investigations revealed that Hosni's friend who was living with her in London at the time, Etemad Mohamed Ali (more commonly known as Etemad Khorshed), had stated that, shortly before her death, Hosni had said in a recorded television interview that she had received a death threat from El-Sherif.

Judge Alaa El-Din, however, asserted that there was "no evidence" for the allegations, including claims by Hafez that a secret agent had been issued counterfeit travel documents in order to carry out the crime in the UK. What's more, the judge said, recent examinations of El-Adly's secret bank accounts had turned up no evidence to support Hafez's claims.

The judge also dismissed the notion of a 'secret political organisation' working within El-Adly's interior ministry, also asserting that there were no records of anyone named Rafaat Badran ever working for the ministry.

Hafez' claims, said the judge, had been based on media reports by journalist Emad Fawzy, who is currently under investigation on charges that he fabricated the information.

Notably, Hosni's death recalled earlier – strikingly similar – deaths of prominent Egyptians involving London balconies.

In June 2007, Egyptian billionaire Ashraf Marawan was said to have jumped from the balcony of his London apartment. Marwan, the son-in-law of former president Gamal Abdel Nasser, had faced accusations of having worked as a double-agent for Israel.

And in the mid-1970s, Leithy Nassif – a former head of Egypt's presidential guard under Anwar El-Sadat – also allegedly killed himself by throwing himself from a balcony in London.  

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