25 Ultras sent to prison

Cairo Airport police transferred 25 members of the Ultras Ahlawy football fans group to Wadi al-Natroun prison on Tuesday after the prosecution ordered their detention for 15 days, reported the state news agency MENA.

An airport security source told MENA that after being interrogated at the Nozha police station, the detainees were transferred to Wadi al-Natroun under tight security pending further investigations by the prosecution in the coming days.

On Monday, 25 members of Ultras Ahlawy were arrested and charged with attempted murder and vandalism after clashes with the police erupted at the Cairo International Airport on Sunday when they went to welcome the Ahly handball team who had just arrived from Morocco.

In a statement, the Ministry of Interior said the fans lit fireworks and attempted to force their way through the airport. A security source told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper that the suspects were arrested in possession of pellets, fireworks, sticks and belts, while 14 policemen were injured in the incident.

In a statement, Ultras Ahlawy denied any wrongdoing and said that they did not provoke the attack from the police, as all they were doing was waiting for the handball team outside the airport. Witnesses at the airport reported on Twitter seeing members of the Ultras heavily injured during the clashes. 

The group said that the 150 members who were initially arrested were severely assaulted before 125 of them were released.

Another 19 Ultras were arrested Monday night as they tried to block the road to the airport to protest Sunday’s arrests, Al-Ahram reported. The prosecution ordered Wednesday that they be detained for four days pending investigations on charges of blocking Salah Salem Road, disrupting traffic and setting tires on fire. They are also charged with illegal gathering and destroying public property.

The Ultras Ahlawy are more commonly known for cheering for their football team, but they also support other sports associated with the club.

Ultras football fans have long clashed with the police and are known to have played an important role in the 2011 revolution as they stood in the frontline of protests against security forces.

The arrests caused anger among activists who have spoken against police brutality. Some activists have gone as far as describing the Ultras’ arrests as the return of the security state and its heavy-handedness in dealing with dissident groups.

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