Further unrest follows football death sentences in Egypt | News | DW | 26.01.2013
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Further unrest follows football death sentences in Egypt

At least 14 people have been killed in rioting after 21 people were sentenced to death for their role in Egypt's worst-ever soccer tragedy. The unrest follows lethal clashes on the second anniversary of Egypt's uprising.

Fourteen people, including two police officers, were killed in the canal city of Port Said on Saturday as violence flared in the wake of the verdict.

Disturbances began after a Cairo court handed down the 21 death sentences, almost a year after the tragedy that killed 74 people at a soccer stadium in Port Said.

News of the sentencings immediately led to violence outside the court room, as assailants tried to storm the building. Automatic weapons were fired in the direction of the police.

The football violence, on February 1, 2012, arose between Port Said's al Masry football club and Cairo's al Ahly.

A total of 73 people, including sporting officials and police officers, have been charged on grounds of premeditated murder or negligence. None of the defendants who were sentenced on Saturday were members of the police force. The court set the verdict for the remaining 52 defendants for March 9.

Soccer link to uprising

Many Egyptians believe that either police or the supporters of ousted President Hosni Mubarak engineered the violence. Extreme supporters of al Ahly, known as Ultras, were among the most active members of in the uprising that toppled Mubarak from power.

Hundreds of Ultra supporters gathered outside the club's headquarters in the capital on Saturday, carrying flags and holding pictures of those who died in the stadium.

The verdict came after at least seven people died on Friday - six in Cairo and one in the northeastern town of Ismailiya - in clashes between the police and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi on the second anniversary of the ousting of Mubarak.

The Egyptian army stationed soldiers on the streets of the coastal city early in the morning. According to medical sources, at least 476 people were injured in the Friday demonstrations. The Interior Ministry said 95 police officers had been injured.

rc/hc (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)