22 dead in Egypt riots

CAIRO - The death toll in clashes in Egypt's canal city of Port Said on Saturday reached 22, the health ministry said, as fighting raged after 21 death sentences were handed down in a Cairo court connection with the country's worst football violence.

  • Published: 26/01/2013 at 07:45 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Two policemen were among those killed, the interior ministry said.

Seventy-three people, including sports officials and policemen, were charged with premeditated murder or negligence in connection with the rioting at Port Said stadium in February last year.

People protest in Port Said on Saturday after a court in Cairo sentenced 21 people to death over a football riot that killed more than 70 people last year.

The riots broke out between rival fans of the hosts al-Masry and the visiting team al-Ahly following a Premier League match, killing 74 people. It was the country's worst football tragedy in more than a decade.

The verdict for the remaining 52 defendants will be given on March 9, the judge said on Saturday. Most of the defendants did not attend the session, held in Cairo, for security reasons.

All defendants have the right to appeal. None of those sentenced on Saturday were policemen.

In Port Said, clashes erupted between protesters and police forces. Al-Masry fans and families of the defendants say the case is politically-motivated.

Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, who tried to storm the prison where defendants were being held.

However, hundreds of Al-Ahly team supporters, known as the Ultras, celebrated the verdicts by setting off fireworks and singing on the streets of Cairo.

The families of victims, who attended the reading of the verdict in court, shouted "God is great".

The clashes prompted army forces to deploy to Port Said, to protect vital institutions and restore security.

The decision came hours after troops were deployed in the nearby coastal city of Suez after clashes between police and anti-government protesters killed nine people.

The Suez clashes were the fiercest in a wave of violence that erupted across Egypt Friday, marking the second anniversary of a revolt that toppled former president Hosny Mubarak.

Opposition leader and Nobel laureate Mohammed ElBaradei called for a national "salvation" government to help restore stability.

"Egypt's stability will only return with a political solution that starts with transparency and credibility; a national salvation government to restore security and restart the economy; and a constitution for all Egyptians," he said.

Morsi appealed for calm and vowed that authorities would bring lawbreakers to justice.

"I call on all citizens to adhere to the noble principles of the Egyptian revolution in expressing opinion freely and peacefully," he said on his official Facebook page.  

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Writer: AFP and DPA

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