A court in Cairo confirmed on Saturday the death sentences for 21 defendants who took part in a huge, deadly riot at a soccer stadium in 2012 that killed over 70 people in the city of Port Said.
Also sentenced was Maj. General Essam Samak the former Port Said security chief. Samak was given a prison sentence of 15 years. He was the senior official in charge of security amongst the nine who were at the scene of the riot. A colonel in the police force was also given a prison sentence for 15 years. Seven other security officials were acquitted in the sentencing.
The verdicts were read by a judge inside a Cairo courtroom. He sentenced five other defendants to terms of life in prison, eight to terms of 15 years, six to 10-year terms, two to 5-year terms and one to a term of 12 months. There were 28 people who receive acquittals.
The trial that has gone on for quite some time has caused much unrest throughout Egypt. This is taking place while authorities in the country are trying to control the mass protests against government policy and due to the crumbling economy.
The first set of defendants was given their death sentences back on January 28, which created riots in the city of Port Said, where more than 40 people were killed. Witnesses said the majority of those killed had been shot by Egyptian security forces.
Authorities worried that more unrest of the same nature would take place after the sentencing on Saturday. Fans from Cairo’s Al-Ahly club stormed the headquarters to the country’s soccer federation and set the building ablaze, while friends and relatives of the many defendants gathered outside Port Said government offices to voice their frustration and anger.