CAIRO: It seems that 1982 was the year of the Iron Ladies.
Britain’s “Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher launched a war over the Falkland Islands and Egypt’s “Iron Lady Hoda Abdel-Moneim received a passport which eventually allowed her to flee charges of forgery and embezzlement in Egypt.
But Abdel-Moneim’s two decades on the run suddenly ended Friday when she was arrested at Cairo Airport on a flight from Greece, the local press reported.
On Aug. 23, 2000, she was convicted in absentia for the crime of fraud and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. Prosecutors signaled Saturday with Hoda Abdel-Moneim now in custody a retrial would begin of her previous conviction.
In 1986, Abdel-Moneim fled Egypt after a court order prevented her from leaving the country. She allegedly escaped concealed beneath a niqab. The ease at which an individual at the center of such a high profile case was able to flee caused a scandal for the government of then Prime Minister Atef Ebeid.
In the 1980s, Abdel-Moneim built a real estate empire after selling parcels of land on a housing development under the name of her company Hedico.
Eventually the government backed out of the deal leaving her with large debts and blocked from building on a piece of land ironically located close to Cairo airport, where she was detained Friday.
Reports also indicate that while in Greece, Abdel-Moneim started a new company and was an active businesswoman.
Now 62, Abdel-Moneim is believed to have returned as part of recent government efforts to settle claims against Egyptians who fled the country with large amounts of money, though other sources cite the recent death of her mother.