Egypt: 75 people charged over deadly Port Said soccer riot


Egyptian Al-Ahly players escape from the field as fans of Al-Masry team rush to the pit during clashes that erupted after a football match between the two teams in Port Said.



In Egypt, 75 people have been charged in connection with a post-soccer match riot in Port Said last month, in which more than 70 people died.

According to the BBC, the charges range from negligence to murder.

The defendants include nine police officers and three officials from the Al Masry soccer club, at whose grounds the match was played, Egyptian news site Ahram Online reported.

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The former head of security in Port Said, General Essam Samak, who was suspended following the riot, is among them, along with his his deputy and four other security officials.

Prosecutors stated the charges were based on video footage and suspects' confessions, according to the Associated Press. They allege that the violence was premeditated, with people arriving in the stadium armed with knives, rocks and explosives.

Meanwhile security officials are accused of allowing the attacks to go ahead, for example by failing to search fans for weapons before the match and allowing more Al Masry supporters than authorized into the grounds.

The Feb. 1 incident was one of the deadliest in soccer history. At least 74 people were killed in fights between supporters of Al Masry and Al Ahly, the Cairo team the home side had just defeated 3-1.

The suspected involvement of the security forces prompted angry demonstrations in Cairo, in which another 16 people died.

Thousands of people marched in the capital again today, Ahram reported, in protest at what they perceive as the slow pace of the government's investigation into the incident.

All professional football matches have been suspended since the riot. Friendly games were supposed to resume this week, but the Egyptian interior ministry today withdrew its permission for two Ahly matches that were due to be played behind closed doors, citing security concerns.

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