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Fans burn Egypt football headquarters after verdict

1 killed as court upholds death for 21 accused in 2012 riots,acquits seven cops

Written by Press Trust Of India | Cairo |
March 10, 2013 12:41:28 am

An Egyptian court Saturday upheld death sentences against 21 convicts of last year’s deadly soccer riot that killed 74 people,and acquitted 28 others,sparking off widespread violence in the deeply polarised country.

The Port Said Criminal Court,headed by Judge Sobhy Abdel Meguid,confirmed the death sentence for 21 of 73 defendants accused of killing 74 fans,mostly of visiting Cairo side Al-Ahly,in the aftermath of a match that turned violent in Port Said in February last year.

The court also handed down life sentences to five people,with 19 receiving lesser jail terms and another 28 exonerated.

Hassan Yassin,head of the Public Prosecution’s technical office,has said the prosecutor general wouldn’t appeal the acquittals of the 28 defendants until reviewing the rationale behind the verdict. He said doing so would be a violation of the law,Egypt Independent reported.

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The court case,which has been the cause of deadly violence recently,resumed this morning at the Police Academy in New Cairo amid security concerns,and immediately drew fiery responses from Port Said for the confirmed death sentences.

A protester was shot dead Saturday in clashes with the police in central Cairo,media reports said.

Huge flames rose above the main building of the Egyptian Football Association in Cairo and a police officers’ club in an affluent neighbourhood on an island in the Nile. Tharwat Seleem,a top official at the Egyptian Football Association said all the original trophies won by Egypt in various football competitions were stolen.

Seleem was quoted by MENA as saying the trophies were stolen before protesters set fire to the EFA’s building in Gezira. Firefighters fought hard to bring the situation under control.

The court handed 15-year sentences to General Essam Samak,the former head of police security,and to Brigadier General Mohammed Saad,who was responsible for the stadium gates,which were locked,when the riot broke out. Seven remaining police defendants were acquitted.

Protests had erupted in Port Said in late January when the court had sentenced the 21 defendants to death.

The riot happened in Port Said last year when clashes took place inside a football stadium between fans of Al-Ahly club and Port Said club Al-Masry.

Shortly after the verdict was announced,thousands of fans of Cairo’s Al-Ahly club went berserk,burning down a police club and storming Egypt’s football headquarters before setting it ablaze. Thick black smoke was seen billowing out over the Cairo skyline.

Most of the riot victims were supporters of Al-Ahly team,and fans were upset about the “lenient” sentences.

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