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75 face trial over Port Said deaths
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 16 - 03 - 2012

CAIRO - Egypt's top prosecutor Thursday charged 75 people with murder and negligence in connection with a deadly soccer riot early last month in the Mediterranean city of Port Said between Al-Ahly of Cairo and El-Masri of Port Said.
After the home side won 3-1, their fans set upon the rival supporters in a killing frenzy that witnesses said lasted 30 minutes. At least 74 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in the February 1 riot, the world's worst soccer-related disaster in 15 years.
"The Prosecution has referred the case to a criminal court, having charged 75 people with premeditated murder," Adel el-Saeed, the spokesman for the Prosecution, told a press conference, carried by the official Middle East News Agency (MENA).
Those charged include nine police officers and two minors. Among the police officers are Maj. Gen. Essam Samak, who was Port Said's security chief at the time of the riot. He has already been suspended.
El-Saeed added that the accused intended to kill some of Ahly's fans called 'Ultras', as revenge for previous disputes.
He said that, after the referee blew up at the end of the match, El-Masri fans attacked the victims in the stands, beating, stoning and even throwing some of them out of the stands.
The culprits had prepared for the massacre with knives, rocks and explosives. Fans from the two teams have a history of animosity, el-Saeed said.
Many witnesses claimed that policemen at the venue did nothing to stop the bloodshed.
El-Saeed added that the accused policemen and officials at El-Masri Club allowed more than 3,000 people to enter the stadium without inspecting them, while security guards also allowed them onto the pitch.
The Prosecution added that these policemen helped the rest of the accused attack Ahly fans in their stands.
Policemen stood by without trying to stop the violence, while an electrical engineer plunged the stadium into darkness, in order to help the accused attack the Ahly fans, el-Saeed said. .
The Prosecution holds policemen and officials at El-Masri Club entirely responsible, he added.
El-Saeed said that more than 700 people, including 145 Port Said policemen and soccer officials, have been questioned about the tragic incident.
The Port Said riot led to the cancellation of the Premier League season and sparked days of clashes in Cairo between police and protesters accusing the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, of doing nothing to protect Al-Ahly fans.
The Egyptian Football Association has yet to punish El-Masri for the riot. It is widely expected that the team will be relegated and banned from playing any official games in its stadium for three years.
Meanwhile, Ultras Ahly and Ultras White Knights (the latter being Zamalek fans) Thursday marched from the Ahly Club premises to the downtown 'Supreme Judiciary House', calling for allocating a certain court for the accused in the case to be tried.
The date of the trial has not been set yet.


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