The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 26, 2013

16 die in Egypt riot after soccer violence verdict

(Continued)

A Port Said resident and lawyer of one of the defendants given a death sentence said the verdict was nothing more than "a political decision to calm the public."

"There is nothing to say these people did anything and we don't understand what this verdict is based on," Mohammed al-Daw told The Associated Press by telephone.

"Our situation in Port Said is very grave because kids were taken from their homes for wearing green T-shirts," he said, referring to the Al-Masry team color.

The violence began after the Port Said's home team won the match, 3-1. Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch after the game ended, attacking Cairo's Al-Ahly fans.

Authorities shut off the stadium lights, plunging it into darkness. In the exit corridor, the fleeing crowd pressed against a chained gate until it broke open. Many were crushed under the crowd of people trying to flee.

Survivors of the riot described a nightmarish scene in the stadium. Police stood by doing nothing, they said, as fans of Al-Masry attacked supporters of the top Cairo club stabbing them and throwing them off bleachers.

Al-Ahly survivors said supporters of Al-Masry carved the words "Port Said" into their bodies and undressed them while beating them with iron bars.

While there has long been bad blood between the two rival teams, many blamed police for failing to perform usual searches for weapons at the stadium.

Both Al-Ahly Ultras and Al-Masry Ultras widely believe that ex-members of the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak helped instigate the attack, and that the police at the very least were responsible for gross negligence. It is not clear what kind of evidence, if any, was presented to the court to back up claims that the attack had been orchestrated by regime officials.

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