Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)
Wednesday,13 December, 2017
Issue 1355, (3-9 August 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Zamalek Ultras, again

More than 200 Zamalek Ultras were referred to military prosecution for violence, reports Inas Mazhar

 

Zamalek Ultras, again
Zamalek Ultras, again

As if Zamalek needed more problems. A week after club president Mortada Mansour sacked the manager of the club, Augusto Ignacio of Portugal, for failing to lead the team to any national or regional championship, an Alexandrian court sent 235 of the club’s extreme supporters, or Ultras, to military prosecution.

The prosecution-general in Western Alexandria District decided to refer Zamalek’s Ultras to military prosecution after they were found guilty by the prosecution-general of rioting following an African group stage match between Zamalek and Ahly of Tripoli on 9 July in the Egyptian Military Stadium at Borg Al-Arab. The 2-2 draw prevented Zamalek from progressing to the quarter-finals of the African Champions League.

Clashes between the Zamalek Ultras and stadium officials and security forces injured seven people and damaged seats and gates at Borg Al-Arab, also known as the Egyptian Army Stadium. Police arrested the fans after stadium video cameras caught the suspects in action. The defendants were detained pending an investigation three days after the incident.

The prosecution-general accused the Ultras of damaging Borg Al-Arab Stadium, disturbing public peace and security, spreading propaganda and wearing T-shirts adorned with the images of the 22 victims who died in February 2015 in clashes during a Zamalek match against Enppi in the national league at the Air Defence Stadium, another military-related stadium.

Since Borg Al-Arab is a military premises, the prosecution-general sent the accused to military prosecution to be questioned for vandalising more than 400 seats and four major entrances. “They are to be sent to military prosecution to commence an investigation on the Borg Al-Arab incident,” judge Mohamed Gaber, the first attorney-general of West Alexandria prosecution, announced.

Since the incident, Alexandria prosecution questioned the suspected Ultras in hearings that involved 30 prosecution investigators. The prosecution also formed a committee to assess the damage done to the stadium.

The general attorney of Alexandria accused the suspects of joining an illegal group — Ultras Zamalkawy, formed against the law — hindering public institutions from performing their duties, acquiring explosives (firecrackers) that threaten people’s lives, endangering lives, thuggery, assailing policemen and injuring a number of them in addition to damaging public property including the stadium’s seats and gates.

The defendants, who attended the hearings with 10 lawyers, denied the accusations, claiming that they did not mean to stoke violence, that it was “unintentional” and that damage to the properties was due to the stampede that ensued in the Ahly Tripoli game on their way out of the stadium. The court was not convinced by the explanations and sent them to military prosecution.

The Ultras White Knights is a group of ardent football fans who support the Zamalek football club. It is not the first time they have been convicted. In April Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld a one-year prison sentence for 11 members of the group who were convicted last year of the 2014 attempted murder of Mansour. In February 2016, a Giza court sentenced the defendants to one year in absentia. The defendants appealed the ruling, but a final verdict was issued in April and cannot be appealed.

The case dates back to October 2014 when some members of the White Knights assaulted Mansour in front of Zamalek club’s main entrance in Cairo, capturing the incident on video and posting it on social media platforms. The court dropped an initial sentence of five years in prison to one year after Mansour withdrew his complaint against the defendants.

In May 2015, the Court of Urgent Matters banned Ultras fan clubs over “terrorism concerns”.

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