The death sentence that was handed out to 21 of the defendants of the Port Said football massacre was ratified on Saturday during the case’s final session.
The defendants were sentenced to death for murdering 74 Al-Ahly football club fans after a football match in February 2012. The sentences were referred to former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa on 26 January.
Former Port Said Director of Security Essam El-Din Samak was also sentenced 15 years in high security prison alongside nine other defendants. Five other defendants were sentenced to life in prison, six defendants were sentenced to ten years, two defendants were sentenced to five years and one defendant was sentenced to a year in prison.
The Prosecutor General has appealed the acquittal of the 28 remaining defendants.
“Twenty-one death verdicts in one court case are a lot,” said Seif Al-Islam Hamad, a human rights lawyer. Hamad added that death verdicts are automatically challenged by the prosecution. “The case will be referred to the Cassation Court, which would refer it to a different court district if they suspect that the verdict is exaggerated.”
Shawky Ibrahim Abdel Karim Allam resumed reviewing the sentences after replacing Gomaa on 4 March as Egypt’s Grand Mufti. Allam said that due to the limited time he has had to reviews the cases, he was unable to reach a decision regarding the proposed death sentences in the Port Said trial.
The Egyptian legal system requires a judge to obtain the recommendation of the Grand Mufti before handing out the death penalty.
The 21 defendants are accused of storming the pitch after an Al-Ahly-Al-Masry football match, killing 74 Al-Ahly supporters.
Several policemen and Ministry of Interior officials, also on trial for their role in the massacre, were accused of negligence for failing to end the violence and welding the stadium gates shut so no one could escape.
Additional reporting by Ahmed Aboul Enein