Egypt: Death Sentences Spark Deadly Riots

January 26th, 20133:02 pm @

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Troops are being sent to Port Said after violent clashes erupted following the sentencing to death of 21 football fans who rioted after a game in 2012.

The 21 men are among a group of more than 70 people in court for their role in the post-match riot in Port Said in which 74 people died.

As the sentence was read out in court and broadcast live on Egyptian television, families of those who died during the match wailed in relief and shouted “God is great!” from the public gallery.

Jubilant: Fans of Al Ahly football club celebrate the verdict in Cairo

Defendants’ lawyers said all those sentenced were fans of the Port Said team, Al Masry. 

Meanwhile, relatives of those sentenced attempted to storm the prison where the defendants were being held, leading to fierce clashes with police which left at least 22 people dead, including two policemen.

Residents in Port Said, where the match was played, were also angry that people from their city were being held responsible for the tragedy. On hearing the verdict many rampaged through the streets and some attempted to storm a police station.

Die-hard football fans from both teams hold the police at least partially responsible for the Port Said deaths and criticise Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi for doing little to reform the force.

Al Ahly fans were considered by many to be the victims of the riot

Firearms were used against police who responded with tear gas and troops are being sent to Port Said, a senior army officer said.

“It has been decided to deploy some units to work for calm and stability and the protection of public establishments,” General Ahmed Wasfi said in a statement.

Shops were closed and armoured personnel vehicles deployed as fighting raged in some streets around the prison.

In Cairo, there were explosions of jubilation at the verdict. One man who lost his son in the Port Said clashes wept outside court and said he was satisfied with the judges decision.

Joy: Families of fans killed shouted ‘God is great’ after the verdict

Another, Hassan Mustafa, had pinned a picture of his dead friend to his chest and said he was pleased with the outcome, adding that he wanted “justice served for those who planned the killing”.

In February 2012 more than 70 people were killed in Port Said during clashes between fans of home side Al Masry and diehard supporters of Cairo’s Al Ahly.

Doctors treating the victims said some had been stabbed to death. One player caught up in the rioting described it as “a war”.

Witnesses said most of the deaths involved people who had been trampled in the crush of panicked crowds, or who fell from terraces.

Some of the defendants accused of involvement in the violence

After the violence, deputy health minister Hesham Sheiha told state television: “This is unfortunate and deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt’s soccer history.”

Among those on trial are nine security officials. The riot was the world’s deadliest soccer violence in 15 years.

The judge said in his statement read live on state TV that he would announce the verdict for the remaining 52 defendants on March 9.

As is customary in Egypt, the death sentences will be sent to religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for approval.

Executions in Egypt are usually carried out by hanging.

Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1043203