Egypt: Death sentences in Port Said case
An Egyptian court sentenced to death on Saturday 21 people accused of involvement in the Port Said soccer stadium disaster in which 74 people were killed last year, the judge said.
The judge read out a list of 21 names who had been “referred to the Mufti,” a phrase used to denote a death verdict as all such sentences must reviewed by the Egypt's top religious authority.
The court was ruling in the case of 73 people charged with involvement in the Feb. 1, 2012 disaster. The verdicts for others in the case will be announced in March 9.
More than 70 people were killed in Port Said in February 2012 during clashes in the Suez Canal city between fans of home side Al-Masry and the Ultras of Cairo's Al-Ahly.
Ahly supporters warned earlier of violent protests and a “new revolution” should the verdict not rule in their favor.
Ahly Club hardcore fans – Ultras Ahlawy- blocked the Cairo metro on Wednesday afternoon and sieged the stock exchange building earlier on the day, amid protests they held to demand a swift verdict in the Port Said trial.
Torn by last year’s tragedy, Ultras Ahlawy held several marches last week reminding people of the Port Said massacre victims.
Wednesday was marked by Ultras as the “first of the days of rage,” after Prosecutor General Tala’at Abdallah said new evidence in the case is revealed.
However, the prosecutor’s statements sparked fears when he pointed that the verdict might be postponed, according to the Daily News Egypt.
The news prompted Ultras Ahlawy to release a statement on Tuesday saying “that the group has had enough with the ‘stalling and delays’,” reported the Daily News.
The Ultras blocked a number of major routes throughout Wednesday, including the 6th of October bridge which cuts across Cairo, disrupting traffic, reported the website.
Other Ultras blocked the metro line at Sa’ad Zaghloul’s station in both directions, after they walked all the way on its tracks until they reached Sadat station near the famous Tahrir Square, the Daily News reported.
Many fans accused security forces of causing the disaster to punish them for taking a frontline role in the street revolt that toppled Mubarak in 2011. A parliamentary inquiry last year blamed fans and shoddy policing for the deaths.
The ultras consider their dead as martyrs of Egypt's revolution - a status officially conferred on them this week by President Mohamed Mursi, who assumed power from the military council after winning an election in June.