Saturday, January 26, 2013
EIGHT KILLED IN RIOT AFTER EGYPTIAN COURT SENTENCED 21 PEOPLE TO DEATH FOR FOOTBALL VIOLENCE WHICH KILLED 74 FANS
Angry relatives of the 21 people sentenced to death for their involvement in a riot at a football match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly last February, tried to storm the prison to free the defendants, shooting dead two police officers, according to reports.
Egyptian security officials called in the military to restore order, as police fought running battles with the protestors.
Six people were killed when officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at those demonstrating.
There were dramatic scenes in the courtroom as relatives of those killed in the riot wailed as the judge handed down the verdict.
Many were carrying pictures of the young men killed in the violence on February 1 last year.
The death sentences will be sent to a top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for approval, as is customary in Egypt.
In a verdict broadcast on state TV, the judge said the remaining 52 defendants would be sentenced at a later date.
74 spectators died in the world's worst football-related disaster in 15 years, when fans of Cairo-based Al-Ahly were attacked by rival club Al-Masry in the Mediterranean city of Port Said.
Violence erupted moments after the final whistle when the home Al-Masry fans set upon travelling supporters in a killing frenzy that lasted 30 minutes.
Many witnesses claimed policemen at the venue did nothing to stop the bloodshed.
The ruling caused anger in Port Said, where eight people died as supporters of the defendants clashed with police.
Among them are nine security officials, who are accused of not doing enough to protect the 1,200 Al-Ahly fans when 13,000 Al-Masry hooligans armed with knives, iron bars and machetes stormed the pitch to get at them.
The new violence comes after a day of unrest on the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Thousands of people took to the streets on Friday to voice their opposition to Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, accusing him of betraying the revolution.
At least seven people were killed and more than 450 wounded in unrest across Egypt.
Authorities switched off the stadium lights after the game and, as Al-Ahly supporters tried to flee the violence, many were crushed against a chained gate until it broke open.
Many were trampled under the weight of the crowd behind.
In the days leading up to the verdict, Al-Ahly fans warned of bloodshed and 'retribution' if death sentences were not handed down.
Hundreds of Al-Ahly fans gathered outside the Cairo sports club in anticipation of the verdict, chanting against the police and the government.
Many hardcore fans, or Ultras, have taken a leading role in political protests over the last two years.
Both Al-Ahly Ultras and Al-Masry Ultras widely believe that ex-members of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak helped instigate the attack.
Police did not carry out the customary searches for weapons as fans entered the stadium.
The Ultras, are among Egypt's rowdiest and are proud of their hatred for the police, who were the backbone of Mubarak's authoritarian rule.
The Ultras from Egypt's sports clubs were engaged in deadly clashes with police near the Interior Ministry headquarters in Cairo that killed 42 people less than three months before the soccer melee in Port Said.
Officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at those demonstrating outside the prison, killing six people.
The violence during the match last year was the world's worst football related disaster in 15 years.