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Egypt court upholds 11 death terms over football riots

gavelAn Egyptian court Tuesday upheld death sentences against 11 football fans over a February 2012 riot in the eastern city of Port Said that cost the lives of 74 people.

The Port Said riot, the country’s deadliest sports-related unrest, broke out when fans of home team Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly clashed after a premier league match between the two clubs.

A Cairo criminal court confirmed death sentences passed in April against 11 Al-Masry fans, one of whom is on the run, after consulting Egypt’s grand mufti, the government interpreter of Islamic law who plays an advisory role.

The court also sentenced two police officers, including then Port Said’s police chief Essam Samak, and two Al-Masry club officials to five years in jail.

The rest of 72 defendants were handed sentences of between one and 15 years behind bars. The court acquitted 21 defendants, including seven security officers and an Al-Masry official.

Among the defendants were nine police officers and three officials from Al-Masry, and the rest were fans of the Port Said club.

Tuesday’s sentence can still be appealed before Egypt’s cassation court.

An appeals court had ordered a retrial of the 72 defendants in February 2014 after rejecting an initial lower court verdict sentencing 21 people to death.

The clashes in the Port Said stadium sparked several 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 sparked by the lower court’s verdict of 21 death sentences.

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