Death Sentences Handed Down for Stadium Violence

An Egyptian court handed down death sentences to 21 defendants over rioting at a Port Said soccer stadium last year that killed 74. The rioting was the worst disaster to take place at a soccer game in Egypt and started following a match between two rival teams.

The ruling by the court caused anguish and anger in Port Said, where supporters of the defendants clashed with police officers in rioting that killed eight people. This latest violence comes on the heels of unrest just a day before that took place on the second anniversary of the disturbances that ousted President Hosni Mubarak from power.

Friday, thousand protested in the streets throughout Egypt voicing opposition to President Mohammed Morsi accusing the new Egyptian president of betraying the revolution that took place two years ago. The rioting cause seven deaths in different parts of the country and injured more than 450 people.

Last year, the rioting followed a soccer match between local club al Masry and Cairo based al-Ahry. Fans from al-Masry hurled rocks at the supporters from al Ahry and the violence killed 74 people and caused an outbreak of rioting in the streets the following day that killed an additional 16 people.

All of the defendants who were found guilty and sentenced to death were supporters of al-Masry. The victims’ families and supporters cheered the verdict.

Nevertheless, the ruling also caused violence to break out in the city of Port Said. Supporters and relatives of those sentenced to death attempted to enter the prison where the defendant are held. In that clash, two police and six other people were killed.

The judge said his decision on the remaining defendants would not be made until March 9.

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