CAIRO: An Egyptian engineer on trial in London was brought to court again on allegations of plotting to kill a minister in the current cabinet, as well as top political leaders in Egypt in a bid to rebuild his career at home.
Mamdouh Hamza, 58, a renowned Egyptian engineer and the man behind important national projects such as the Alexandria Library, which opened in 2002,was accused of soliciting to kill four top figures in the Egyptian government, including Minister of Housing and Development Mohammed Ibrahim Suleiman, Presidential Chief of Staff Zakarya Azmi, Parliament Speaker Fathi Sorour and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Kamal El-Shazli. He was accused of wanting to carry out the assassinations between June 13 and July 17 of last year.
British police say they uncovered a plot by Hamza to kill these figures in order to avenge his jeopardized career in Egypt. According to the police,Hamza had agreed to pay undercover Scotland Yard detectives $100,000 to kill Suleiman, stipulating that the crime should look like a terrorist attack.
“In summer of last year, Hamza revealed to undercover officers that he wanted to hire someone to kill a long-standing and apparently powerful enemy of his in Egypt. This arch enemy was Muhammad Sulieman, said Timothy Langdale, one of the prosecutors, as quoted by Times Online.
The Egyptian engineer was said to have agreed with the undercover detectives on an initial fee of $5,000, with the final $100,000 to be paid after the murder took place.
According to prosecutors, Hamza planned to kill three other top figures in addition to Suleiman, who is supposedly his primary enemy, in order to give the crime an overall political campaign outlook.
Relatives of Hamza reported to The Daily Star Egypt of clashes between him and Suleiman over work-related issues and competition in the field. He is believed to have left Egypt with a sense of bitterness due to the lack of local acclaim, despite his international reputation.
“Hamza went on at some length that Sulieman was killing his practice and reputation and taking projects from him. He said he was suffering physically and psychologically and he was being destroyed by him, added Langdale.
Hamza was arrested in August 2004 on his way to a Buckingham Palace garden party at the invitation of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which expressed its astonishment that the award-winning engineer was the subject of a police investigation.
“He is a man of reputation in his professional world and had been involved in a number of major projects in Egypt and other countries, said Langdale.
“However, a police investigation into certain activities of Dr.
Hamza in this country by means of an undercover operation revealed there was another side of his character and another preoccupation – amounting perhaps to an obsession quite outside his ordinary work as an engineer, he added. Hamza has previously denied any intention to assassinate Egypt’s political leaders and described what has been termed his suspicious activities as curiosity about the level of local security procedures in Egypt.
Concerned ministers said they had not received any death threats.