Middle East
Thousands protest Egypt soccer violence
Protesters march in Cairo after 75 are charged for the murder and negligence that left at least 74 people dead.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2012 02:04
Al-Masry fans invaded the pitch after their team won, throwing rocks and fireworks at Al-Ahly fans [AFP]

Thousands of Egyptians, angered by what they say is a lack of accountability for the deaths of 74 fans during a football match last month, have marched through central Cairo and staged a protest outside of the High Court.

Most of the protesters were devoted soccer fans known as "Ultras" from the Al-Ahly club, whose supporters were killed on February 2 when violence broke out during a pitch invasion after a match against Port Said-based Al-Masry.

Thursday's protest took place after prosecutors ordered 75 people to stand trial for causing the stadium disaster, including the head of security in Port Said city where lax policing was blamed for the stampede.

Relatives of the dead wept as they marched with Al-Ahly supporters from the club to the high court.

Samah, whose only son, Kareem Ahmed, was one of those killed, said those responsible for the incident were still at large.

"There has been no justice so far. The important people have not been held accountable," she said. "The people who continue to corrupt Egypt have not been prosecuted, and we know very well who they are, and we won't remain silent until all of them are imprisoned and the country is cleansed. We want these young people to be the last ones to die."

Nine members of the police were among the 75 defendants, including former Port Said security chief Issam Samak, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

'Planned in advance'

The riot began minutes after the final whistle in a league game, as Al-Masry fans invaded the pitch after their team beat the visitors 3-1, throwing stones, bottles and fireworks at Al-Ahly supporters, causing chaos and panic as players and fans fled in all directions.

Witnesses said the riot lasted 30 minutes and many witnesses claimed that policemen at the venue did nothing to stop the bloodshed.

The stadium deaths led to days of violent protests in Cairo, in which another 16 people were killed.

A statement by the Egyptian general prosecutor's office said the charges were based on video footage of the riot and the confessions of suspects.

It said the killing of the protesters was planned in advance and that the culprits prepared for the massacre with knifes, stones and explosives.

The Egyptian football federation has yet to punish Al-Masry for the riot. It is widely expected to relegate the team to a lower league and ban any official games from being played on its grounds.

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