World famous geotechnical engineer Dr Mamdouh Hamza was this week cleared of planning the murder of four Egyptian politicians.
In an exclusive interview Hamza, famous for his role in the recreation of the Alexandria Library, told NCE that he had been naive to engage undercover detectives to probe the security of Egypt's political figures.His defence lawyers successfully argued he had been researching a book on the nature of Egyptian politics.Hamza argued that he had taken the officers on as part of a plan to examine the security surrounding his country's politicians.He sought to apply the engineering principle of modelling or 'simulation' to security arrangements..This meant simulating the assassination by speaking to experts such as ex-SAS hitmen, to see how easily a murder could be carried out.'I do regret what I did because I should have considered many aspects [of my research],' he said, speaking after the Old Bailey jury delivered a not guilty verdict on Tuesday.Hamza, 58, was accused of plotting to kill Egypt's housing minister Muhammad Sulieman, Egyptian House of Parliament chairman Fathi Sorour, Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Al Shazli and the chief of the president's office, Zakaria Azmi.It was alleged that Hamza solicited an individual described only as 'Tommy' to commit the murders, after another agent called 'Anthony' called Hamza in Egypt posing as an assassin.After several telephone conversations with the detectives and his second meeting with Tommy, Hamza was arrested on July 12 2004, the day before he was due to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace.Hamza has been under house arrest since he was charged in 2004 and has had to undergo two trials after the jury in the first case failed to reach a verdict (NCE 12 January).He was philosophical about the period during which he has been prevented from running his Egypt-based consultancy, Hamza Associates.'I look at it as if it was a compulsory shutdown period,' he said.'I was working 16 to 20 hours a day in many, many disciplines - engineering, research, public service.'Despite his two years away from home, Hamza said his research beyond engineering, in areas such as politics, will continue. 'I think my book, 'The Road to Reform', will be out in October,' he said.Hamza said during his time away the support of his family and the Egyptian engineering community helped him immensely.'They were wonderful,' he said.'They never believed the allegation and neither did my clients. My company's turnover increased in 2005-6 by 10-15%.'Even the Government still gave us projects. The only explanation is that they didn't believe the accusations: if you're a client you don't go to someone if you think they are a killer.'As if to prove Hamaza's point, as he was celebrating his release on Tuesday he received a call from congratulating him from Sorour, one of the men he was acussed of plotting to kill.Hamza plans to return to Cairo immediately to get straight back to work at Hamza Associates.Related links:Today's top stories