A court sentenced 11 men to death on Tuesday for their part in Egypt’s worst violence at a soccer stadium, in which more than 70 fans were killed in 2012.
Many of the dead were crushed when panicked fans tried to escape from the Port Said stadium after a post-match pitch invasion by supporters of the local side al-Masry. Others fell or were thrown from terraces, witnesses said at the time. More than 1,000 were injured.
Twenty-one people were found innocent. The verdicts can be appealed. Among those who received a five-year sentence was the former Port Said police chief.
The judge had referred the death sentence in April to Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, the country’s most senior religious authority, in a step required by law for convictions in capital cases.
Judge Mohammed al-Saeed told Reuters that the Mufti approved of the 11 defendants’ death sentences.
Yasser Sayed Ahmed, a lawyer for the family of one of the victims hailed the ruling as “extremely fair and satisfactory”.
Soccer matches are often a flashpoint for violence in Egypt. The teams in the Port Said incident – al-Masry and Cairo’s al-Ahli – are longtime rivals. Witnesses said the rioting broke out after Cairo fans unfurled banners insulting the local team, which had won the match 3-1.