Police are among those charged in deadly Egyptian soccer riot | News | DW | 15.03.2012
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Police are among those charged in deadly Egyptian soccer riot

Nine police officers are among those who have been charged in connection with a soccer riot in Egypt last month that killed 74 people. The riot sparked days of clashes between police and protesters in Cairo.

Egyptian prosecutors have laid charges of murder or negligence against a total of 75 people in connection with a soccer riot last month that left dozens of people dead.

A statement issued by the prosecutors' office in Cairo listed nine police officers among those charged, including Major General Issam Samak. He was the head of security in the Mediterranean city of Port Said where the incident occurred. He had already been suspended from duty.

Three officials from the Al-Masry soccer club are also facing charges.

The riot began after an Egyptian first division game between Al-Masry, who were playing at home in Port Said, and visiting Cairo side Al-Ahly.

The home team won the match 3-1, but almost immediately after the referee blew the final whistle Al-Masry supporters began attacking rival fans in a brawl that went on for about half an hour. Witnesses said police officers who were present at the match did nothing to stop the violence, in which 74 people were killed and hundreds of others injured.

The statement said prosecutors issued the charges after watching video footage of the riot and hearing confessions from suspects. It said they had determined that the attacks on the Al-Ahly fans had been premeditated, with many Al-Masry supporters having come to the stadium armed with knives, rocks and explosives.

Speculation about those behind the attacks

The incident sparked several days of clashes in Cairo, in which several more people were killed.

Although fans from the two teams have a history of animosity, many accused supporters of former President Hosni Mubarak of orchestrating the riot.

However the head of the soccer association denied that any "third party" had been behind the incident. Speaking at a sports and security conference in Doha on Thursday, Magdy Abdel Ghany said that in addition to the long-standing hatred between the fans of the two clubs, the riot was to blame on a mix of lax security and the use of social networking sites.

pfd/ncy (AP, AFP)