CAIRO - Twenty-one football fans and club members were sentenced to death on Saturday, January 26, over Egypt's worst-ever football tragedy, sparking deadly violence in the canal city of Port Said.
"I thank God that justice is back in the courts of Egypt, the mother of Mustafa Issam, who was killed in last year's football tragedy in Port Said, told Nile TV by phone.Many mothers will sleep sound tonight knowing justice is served.
Judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid ordered the death sentence for 21 people over their role in the killing of 72 fans of Cairo club Al-Ahly during their football games with local Al-Masry club in Port Said last year.
They are criminals. They killed my son, the mother of Ahmed Wageeh, 19, who was killed in the massacre, was quoted as saying by Al-Youm Al-Sabae.They threw my son from the top of the stadium after ripping off his clothes, she added, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
The sentence sparked explosions of joy inside and outside the court in Cairo.
God is greatest, one relative of a victim shouted, Reuters reported.
Women ululated, relatives hugged and shouted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest).
I am satisfied with the verdict, another man who lost his son in the massacre told Agence France Presse (AFP) as he wept outside the court.
Hassan Mustafa, had pinned a picture of his dead friend to his chest and said he was pleased with the verdict, but wanted "justice served for those who planned the killing."
Outside Al Ahly club in Cairo, hardcore fans of Al-Ahly club known as the Ultras also cheered.
A total of 73 people have been standing trial. Other rulings will be issued on March 9, the judge said.
The court has now handed the verdict to the country's top cleric for his final opinion.
Executions in Egypt must be authorized by the Grand Mufti.
But the court verdict sparked deadly violence in Port Said, which left at least 36 people killed.
"It has been decided to deploy some units to work for calm and stability and the protection of public establishments," senior army officer General Ahmed Wasfi said in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency.
Following the ruling, residents rampaged through the streets in anger that people from their city had been blamed.
Medics said at least 36 people were killed and hundreds injured in attempts to storm the prison were the defendants are being held.
Unidentified assailants used automatic weapons against police who responded with tear gas, witnesses said.
A witness said some men stormed two police stations in the city.
Shops closed and armoured personnel vehicles were deployed as fighting raged in some streets around the prison.
Despite the violence, officials confirmed that shipping through Egypt's Suez Canal was proceeding as normal on Saturday.
"Shipping movement through the Suez Canal is regular and is going ahead positively," canal spokesman Tarek Hassanein told Reuters, adding 44 ships had entered the canal so far on Saturday.
The violence came a day after at least nine people were killed protests marking the 2nd anniversary of the revolution that ousted president Hosni Mubarak."The state of polarization between Islamists and others is most likely to continue and will have very negative impact on the state's politics, security and economy," Mustapha Kamal Al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at Cairo University, told Reuters.