CAIRO, Egypt, March 11 2013 - On Saturday March 9, 2013 the criminal court confirmed death sentence for 21 people indicted in February 2012 for the massacre at Port Said Stadium. The highest ranking police officials received 15 years in prison, and 28 other defendants were acquitted.
The massacre took place at the Stadium after a soccer game between the Al-Masry and Al Ahly clubs, after thousands of Al-Masry fans stormed the stands and the field.
Fans of Al Ahly as well as other demonstrators, disappointed with the verdict, took to the streets of central Cairo. Demonstrators ransacked and then set fire to the headquarters of the Egyptian Football Federation and also burned down the adjoining Police Gezira Club.
In Port Said, hundreds gathered outside the local government headquarters after the verdict carrying flags that called for an independent republic of Port Said. The angry protesters threatened to stop the ferries that transit from Port Said to Port Foad.
On January 26, 2013 the criminal court sentenced 21 out of 73 defendants to death for their involvement in the riot. The verdict sparked violence that led to more than 40 deaths in Port Said.
Since the verdict, Canal cities have witnessed mass protests, violent clashes and street battles between anti-government protesters and security forces who had attempted to move 39 of the defendants facing trial to an unknown location.
Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, a leading opposition politician wrote a sarcastic comment on his twitter account: “awaiting details of verdict to know who the mastermind behind the Port Said massacre is and learn the truth about what is happening in Egypt. I hope it is not the invisible hand that has been haunting us for 2 years.”
Protestors in Port Said are now protesting over the deaths of demonstrators. Human Rights Activists reported that the police fired indiscriminately at Port Said‘s residents over the past few weeks, but police denied responsibility, blaming the deaths on criminals taking advantage of the chaos.
Police stations in almost 10 governorates went on strike last week to agitate for reform. They say the government must reform the security apparatus and remove police from politics.
The government of Mohammed Morsi is struggling to stop the slide in security. But public discontent, displayed in the form of protests and demonstrations, continues to plague the country.
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