Soccer Riot Sentencing Sparks More Riots in Egypt

Connor Simpson

After 21 people were sentenced to death by an Egyptian court for their roles in deadly soccer riots last year, violence erupted outside of the Port Said courtroom and resulted in ever more deaths. They were sentenced for their roles in the deadly soccer riots on February 1, 2012, that killed at least 74 people. Supporters of the al-Masry squad stormed the pitch after defeating their rivals, the Cairo-based al-Ahly, and began throwing fireworks and debris at al-Ahly fans.

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27 people died Saturday after angry relatives of the Al-Masry supporters stormed the Port Said jail to try and free the prisoners, who were not present at the trial for security reasons, after the judge delivered the 21 death sentences. At least two police officers were killed in the violence. Police tried to use tear gas to disperse the crowds from the jail. Al-Jazeera reports some supporters were seen firing automatic weapons. Military police and armored vehicles were eventually dispatched to try calm the violence. The BBC has some pretty terrifying video of the clashes. 

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The death sentences for the 21 people involved in last year's riots aren't final. They still have to be approved by Egypt's grand mufti, and the defendants still have a chance to appeal the judge's decision. They judge didn't offer any explanation for his verdicts, which is leading some to believe the rulings were mostly political. Al-Masry supporters warned of violence and unrest in Cairo if Saturday's rulings weren't to their liking. 

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Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, and crowds in Tahrir Square were dispersed by police using tear gas there, too.