The Port Said Criminal Court resumed Tuesday the trial case regarding the football massacre carrying the same governorate’s name, which took place three years ago in the stadium hosting a game between the city’s locally based Al-Masry Sporting Club and national giant Al-Ahly, killing at least 72 of the latter’s fans.
The court has been holding new hearing sessions since Saturday and decided to continue another round of court sessions from 7 to 10 March.
Sunday’s clashes at the Air Defence Stadium between supporters of the second giant national Al-Zamalek team and police forces appeared to be similar in “restricting” those being attacked in a closed area, as at least 22 people died in a crowded “cage”, which security forces used as the gate of entrance, while others suffocated from tear gas.
The clashes, seen by millions of people live on TV as the game was taking place, erupted when some of the fans headed towards the play field, which turned into a conflict with melees and weapons right after the game on 1 February 2012.
The incidents turned into a “massacre” when fans found themselves trapped inside the stadium and its doors locked from the outside, despite having been previously open to let the public in, with accusations to security forces of failing to intervene, and possible involvement by conspiring against the victims, especially in not preventing possession of arms.
There are a total of 73 defendants in the case, including nine officials from Port Said’s Security Directorate. The first sentence was delivered in January 2013, when 21 people were sentenced to death.
The verdict was followed by violence, when the families of the defendants reportedly tried to storm their place of detention clashing with security forces. The conflict left 26 new deaths that did not include any of the security forces on trial, state-run media Al-Ahram reported.
The second verdict came in March 2013, when 21 death sentences were ratified, with five receiving life sentences, ten handed 15 year sentences, two receiving five years and one man receiving a year-long sentence.
The court had also acquitted 28 people, including seven former police officers, but it was established in February 2014 that the court of appeals ordered a retrial of the defendants including those who were not charged.