EGYPT: Court Sentence 11 Persons To Death Over Fatal Football Crisis
An Egyptian court has handed down the death penalty to 11 men after they were found guilty of being involved in the country's worst football violence three years ago. Another 41 defendants received prison sentences.
The sentences announced on Tuesday came at the end of a retrial after Egypt's top appeals court overturned a 2013 verdict in the same case in which 21 defendants were condemned to death. A second appeal is still possible.
The clashes between long-time rivals of Port Said's al-Masry team and visiting Cairo team al-Ahly took place on February 1, 2012 during Egypt's tense and highly politicized period of military rule following the 2011 January revolution which brought an end to three decades of rule by dictator Hosni Mubarak. Seventy-four people were killed in the football stadium violence.
Following the 2013 match, al-Masry supporters stormed the pitch where they began attacking al-Ahly players and fans. According to witness accounts at the time, spectators were stabbed with knives and pushed from the top of the stadium. Many of those killed in the riots were crushed as they attempted to escape the stadium from the violence.
Of the 73 people charged with premeditated murder, negligence or possession of weapons in connection with the rioting, 21 were acquitted on Tuesday.
Al-Ahly Ultras previously accused members of Egypt's police force of conspiring against them with their football rivals due to their prominent role in the 2011 revolution and subsequent anti-government rallies.
In April the judge had referred the sentencing of the 11 to Egypt's Grand Mufti, the country's most senior religious authority, a step towards the death penalty.