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Engineer sought revenge killings, claims QC

A WORLD renowned geotechnical engineer was bent on revenge when he attempted to hire an assassin to kill three Egyptian ministers, an Old Bailey jury heard on Tuesday.

In his opening statement prosecutor Edward Brown QC said Dr Mamdouh Hamza was 'obsessed' by the Egyptian housing minister Mohammed Suleiman who he is said to have claimed 'was trying to destroy me'.

Hamza runs Egypt's biggest civil engineering consultancy Hamza Associates and is famous for designing the Alexandria Library.

He is alleged to have offered an undercover policeman posing as a potential assassin $100,000 (£60,000) to kill Suleiman along with two other government ministers.

Although Hamza was targeting Suleiman he wanted two other ministers killed as well to make it look as though Islamist extremists were attacking the government, the prosecution claimed. Four police officers were involved in the undercover operation. One, known only as Anthony, phoned Hamza in Cairo in February 2004 and offered to 'solve his problem'.

Hamza then held a series of meetings in London between 18 June and 12 July, where he met Anthony, and was then escorted by other undercover offi ers to the Meridien Hotel in Piccadilly. Here he met twice with another undercover offi cer, who claimed to be a hitman working for Anthony.

All the meetings were taped and the last meeting was also videoed, although the prosecution accepted that in some cases Hamza's words were inaudible. After the last meeting Hamza was arrested (NCE 29 July 2004).

Hamza is pleading not guilty of soliciting to murder. The case continues.

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