SHAFAQNA -Â An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced 11 men to death for their part in the countryâ€™s worst outbreak of soccer stadium violence which killed more than 70 fans and injured at least 1,000 in 2012.
Many of the dead were crushed when panicked fans tried to escape from the Port Said stadium after a post-match pitch invasion by supporters of the local side al-Masry.
Others fell or were thrown from terraces, witnesses said at the time. The court, whose session was televised live, sentenced one of the men in absentia. Other defendants received between 15 and five years in jail and some were found innocent. The verdicts can be appealed.
The judge referred the death sentence in April to Egyptâ€™s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, the countryâ€™s most senior religious authority, in a step required by law for convictions in capital cases. The muftiâ€™s opinion is not binding and not made public.
Soccer matches are often a flashpoint for violence in Egypt. The teams in the Port Said incident â€“ al-Masry and Cairoâ€™s al-Ahli â€“ are long-time rivals. Witnesses said the rioting broke out after Cairo fans unfurled banners insulting the local team, which had won the match 3-1.