Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1250, (11 - 17 June 2015)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1250, (11 - 17 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

A final verdict

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Al-Ahram Weekly

On Tuesday the Port Said Criminal Court upheld eleven death sentences that were passed last April, one in absentia, in the 2012 Port Said Stadium massacre retrial‪.‬

Another ten, 15 and 15 defendants respectively received 15, 10 and 15-year jail terms. One defendant received a one-year jail term, while 21 were acquitted. The defendants were found guilty on charges of premeditated and attempted murder of 72 Ahli club fans – mainly members of the Ahli Ulras group – during a Premier League match with the local Al-Masri at the Port Said Stadium. 

The former head of the Security Directorate and the Maritime Police, respectively Essam Samak and Mohamed Saad, were among the defendants who received five-year sentences. Al-Masri football club official Mohsen Shata was also sentenced to five-years in jail. The verdicts remain subject to appeal.

Before reading out the verdict, judge Mohamed Al-Said stressed the importance of “Egypt’s youth”, saying the phenomenon of the Ultras was abused by those who gave young football supporters the wrong ideas about it. Al-Said also commented on violent Ultras methods of celebrating victory, adding that there should be legal bases to regulate the mechanism of forming and operating football supporter groups.

Till Tuesday evening there was no response issued from Ultras Ahlawi to Tuesday’s verdict. In January 2013, the Port Said Criminal Court had sentenced 21 Al-Masri fans to death, postponing the sentences of 52 others for legal reasons. The verdicts triggered clashes between angry locals and the police, which left 40 dead. Elsewhere, Ahli fans welcomed the sentences but criticised the court’s failure to issue capital punishment verdicts for any of the police officers charged in the case.

In March 2013, the court ruled on all remaining 52 defendants. It sentenced five people to 25 years in jail, and issued less harsh sentences for the remaining defendants - including 15 years in jail for two police officers. Another 28 people were acquitted, including seven policemen. Almost a year later, in February 2014, the Court of Cassation accepted two appeals; one was filed by the prosecutor-general’s office and the other by the defendants’ lawyers. Accordingly, a retrial was ordered. 

In April 2015, the Port Said Criminal Court had issued a preliminary death sentence against eleven defendants. The court then referred the initial verdict to the Grand Mufti for a non-binding consultation, as stipulated by the law. Tuesday’s verdict followed the court reviewing the Mufti’s opinion. In mid-May, the Cairo Court for Urgent Affairs issued a verdict banning the activities of all hardcore football fan groups known as Ultras across the country, and declaring them terrorist organisations. The verdict, which criminalises the existence of Ultras groups, stems from a report by Zamalek Club President Mortada Mansour, who also accused them of attempting to kill him and banned them from entering the club.

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