Egypt court sentences 11 to death over 2012 football riot

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An Egyptian court Sunday sentenced 11 football fans to death after a retrial over a 2012 stadium riot in the canal city of Port Said that left 74 people dead.

An appeals court had ordered the retrial of 73 defendants in February last year after rejecting a lower court verdict sentencing 21 people to death for being involved in the incident. The riot erupted in February 2012 when fans of home team Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly clashed after a premier league match between the two clubs. Sunday’s death sentences against 11 football fans have been referred to Egypt’s grand mufti.

The court will make a final decision on their fates, as well as those of the other defendants, on May 30.

The 73 defendants include nine police officers and three officials from Al-Masry club, while the rest were fans of Al-Masry club. Two of those sentenced to death are on the run.

None of the families of the victims or of the defendants attended Sunday’s court session, which was held in Cairo for security reasons. Sunday’s verdict can be appealed.

The 2012 clashes in the Port Said stadium sparked days of violent protests in Cairo, in which another 16 people were killed in fighting with security forces.

A year later, dozens of people also died in the canal city during clashes that erupted after the lower court handed down the 21 death sentences.

The Port Said riots were the deadliest sport-related riots in Egypt, where football fans regularly clash against rival supporters or with security forces.

The authorities reacted by imposing a ban on fans attending premier league matches and held the games behind closed doors.