Port Said Stadium Clashes:Egypt court confirms 21 Port Said death sentences / Middle East News

An Egyptian court has upheld death sentences on 21 Port Said football fans for their role in a stadium riot last year.

An Egyptian court has upheld death sentences on 21 Port Said football fans for their role in a stadium riot last year.

Some 74 people were killed and around 1,000 injured at the end of a match between Cairo’s Al Ahly and Al Masry, the local side, on February 1, 2012.

An Egyptian court has confirmed the death sentences for 21 football fans involved in the fatal riots in Port Said in 2012. It also sentenced five other suspects to life in jail and six others to 15-year terms.

Among those receiving the relatively milder punishment is the city’s security chief Esam Samak.

The court also acquitted 25 other defendants in the case, which triggered mass riots in Port Said.

Supporters of the defendants said they plan a mass civil disobedience action and a strike in protest against the court’s decision. They began by staging a rally in front of the city administration. There is also talk about blockading the Suez Canal, which passes through Port Said.

Spectators were crushed when panicked fans tried to get out the stadium after a pitch invasion by Port Said supporters.

In a live televised ruling, judge Sobhi Abdel-Maguid sitting at a Cairo court, confirmed “the death penalty by hanging”.

Al Ahly fans had warned police they would retaliate if the defendants, including nine policemen, were exonerated.

The city’s former security chief, Major General Essam Samak, was jailed for 15 years along with several others including Brigadier General Mohammed Saad, who during the riot had the keys to the stadium gates, which were locked.

A further five people were also sentenced to life imprisonment for the riot, while 28 others – including seven police officers – were acquitted.

The rest of the 73 defendants involved received shorter prison sentences.

The death sentences – originally handed down in January – have provoked deadly clashes in Port Said and Cairo.

The riot – the worst case of football violence in the country and the deadliest worldwide since 1996 – erupted after the home team Al Masry beat Egypt’s top club Al Ahly in the league fixture.

Subsequent widespread violence and protests have sparked fresh concerns about Egypt’s stability.

Political turmoil is sweeping across the country with demonstrators demanding concessions from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, while others want him removed altogether, saying his Muslim Brotherhood is monopolising power.

His government is struggling to halt the slide in law and order, hampered by a strike by some protesting police.

At least eight people have been killed in Port Said this week, including three police officers.



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