Hamza was greeted by “thousand and thousands of people” at Cairo airport, says his elated wife Omaima Hamza. News of his trial had been muted in the U.K., but was a “huge, huge story” in Egypt she adds. In a phone call, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak offered Hamza his support.

During his detention, Hamza lived in a London apartment and continued running his firm, Cairo-based Hamza Associates. Business “suffered a little” in Egypt but not internationally, he says. His firm even opened a design office in Ohio, and won several professional prizes, including one from ASCE for design of Egypt’s Toshka pumping station on Lake Nasser.

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  • Though barred from visiting Egypt, Hamza recovered his passport during the last six months and travelled to projects in the Gulf, he says. He visited Florida for a vacation and, this April, attended ENR’s Award of Excellence Dinner in New York City, unnoticed. Hamza was an ENR Top Newsmaker in 2002 for his design of Egypt’s East Port Said port project.

    Hamza and his firm incurred legal and other costs of around $1 million, some of which he hopes to recover from the British authorities. He speaks well of England’s justice system and was treated courteously, he says. But he has sharp words about the police. “They made a big, big mistake…and they tried to cover it up”.

    The bizarre episode started in July 2004, when Hamza was making his way to one of Queen Elizabeth’s garden parties for special guests. His invitation had been delivered by the British embassy in Cairo, which claimed to have no knowledge of the case.

    Hamza had been researching a political book involving an assessment of how secure high ranking Egyptian officials were from attack, says his London lawyer Rhona Friedman. “It may not have been a methodology you or I would have chosen,” she says.

    Hamza sought security experts in the U.K. and was met by an undercover police officer, known as Tommy. Discussions between the two men led to false allegations of Hamza soliciting Tommy to murder four officials and politicians. “It was silly and it’s finished,” says Hamza, happily from his Cairo office.

    minent Egyptian engineering designer Mamdouh Hamza returned to Cairo from the U.K. within hours of being acquitted of charges of soliciting the murder of high-ranking Egyptian officials. He was found innocent by a unanimous jury on 27 June after a second, three-week trial in London, where he was arrested two years ago.