WORLD FAMOUS geotechnical engineer Dr Mamdouh Hamza is in a London prison charged with soliciting the murder of four people, it emerged this week.
Hamza, famous for his role in the recreation of the Alexandria Library, was arrested in London by Scotland Yard detectives on 12 July.
He had flown into the UK from Cairo with his wife and family to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 13 July.
He appeared at Bow Street magistrate's court the next day and was remanded in custody until 21 July when he was formally charged at the Old Bailey.
Hamza was again remanded in custody until 1 September when a pleas and direction hearing will be held, at which he will be formally asked if he pleads guilty or not guilty to the charge.
As news of his detention emerged in Egypt this week his friends and colleagues reacted with amazement and dismay.
ICE country representative for Egypt Dr Gamal Abu-Taleb said the news of Hamza's detention was 'unbelievable'.
'It's hard to believe that a man of Dr Hamza's intellectual capacity would be involved in anything like this, ' Abu-Taleb added.
Hamza Associates, the Cairobased consultant he founded in 1979, said it knew nothing of the charges but added that the whole Cairo engineering community was lobbying the government to find out more.
The Egyptian government has denied that Hamza is wanted for any offence in Egypt.
Hamza is a very high profile engineer with an international reputation, and has been responsible for a whole series of advanced technology projects such as the Alexandria Library and the Mubarak pumping station on Lake Nasser (NCE 6 November 2003).
He has a PhD in geotechnical engineering from London's Imperial College and is professor of soil mechanics and foundation engineering at Suez Canal University.
Those who know him describe Hamza as a flamboyant figure noted for his hospitality but who has often publicly criticised the Egyptian government's procurement policy, especially on housing. Hamza has repeatedly criticised housing and construction minister Omar Al-Farouq Aldamlogi.
The Egyptian media has speculated that the four targets of the alleged murder bid were two government ministers, the speaker of parliament and the president's chief of staff.