An Egyptian court has sentenced 11 men to death for their involvement in a 2012 football riot in the city of Port Said in which 73 people died and at least 1,000 were injured.

However, Sunday's decision still requires the approval of Egypt's most senior religious authority, the Grand Mufti, and the men can also appeal, a process that may take several years.

"With the agreement of all members, the case will be sent to the Grand Mufti to give his Islamic opinion on the defendants' fate," Judge Mohamed al-Saeed Mohamed said, in a court session shown on television.

A later court hearing will be held on May 30.

In Egypt, the Grand Mufti's decision is not binding but referral is needed in order to impose the death sentence.

In the incident, fans of the winning al-Masry team invaded the pitch seconds after the Port Said match with al-Ahly, Egypt's top football team.

Most of the 73 people killed were trampled in the crush of the resulting riots or fell from terraces, according to witnesses and health workers.

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies