Egypt:Court jails 14 over stampede in 2015 soccer match

A court in Egypt has handed down 14 jail sentences, including two life terms, to people involved in a deadly soccer stadium stampede in Cairo two years ago.

The court issued the rulings on Sunday in a case related to the stampede that took place before the soccer match between Cairo teams Zamalek and ENPPI in February 2015 and left 19 people killed.

The court had accused the defendants of charges including murder, thuggery and vandalism while maintaining that their involvement in clashes forced the police to fire tear gas at fans who tried to push their way into the stadium.

Two of the 16 defendants involved in the case were acquitted by the court, one received a two-year sentence, three were jailed for three years each, five got seven years, three were given 10 years and two received life sentences.

All the defendants were present during the final hearing. They can still appeal the verdicts.

The stadium stampede forced Egypt to reintroduce a ban on the presence of soccer fans in the country’s premier league games. That was also the case after a rioting in a soccer game in Port Said in 2012 which left 70 people dead.

The Egyptian judiciary has been tough on hard-core soccer fans in Egypt, known as Ultras, as they have often clashed with police during the political unrest that has led to the change of two governments over the past six years. The authorities have linked many of those fans to political groups, including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which has seen thousands of its members jailed or prosecuted over terrorism charges. .

Prosecutors dealing with Cairo stadium stampede said the Brotherhood party financed the Zamalek supporters and helped them “spread chaos and suspend (football) activity”.

By Africafrique and agencies

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