A leading member of the Ultras Ahlawy — a hardcore group of football fans supporting the Ahly club — was arrested in his home on Sunday night, according to a statement issued by the club on Monday.
Ahmed Edris, known as “Edriso,” was arrested on charges of shooting fireworks at a rival football fan club, the Ultras Green Eagles, who support Port Said’s football team Al-Masry, reported the privately owned daily newspaper Al-Watan. The police forces were acting on a lawsuit filed against Edris by lawyer Ashraf al-Ezabi, according to the newspaper.
However, thanks to a swift intervention from Ahly CEO Hassan Hamdy, Edris was released from detention by Monday evening, the club said in an official statement on its website.
Ahly’s board was committed to working toward Edris’ release in order to prevent potential retaliation from his fellow fans, “and to protect the national well being of the country,” the statement said.
The case against Edris has been pending since 2012 and he has not been implicated in any other criminal acts, the statement asserted, adding that “Hamdy was keen to send lawyer Mohamed Othman to follow up on the case against Edris in a bid that shows the support of the club to its fans.”
Edris is accused of attacking the fans during a bloody football game in February 2012 that left over 72 Ultras Ahlawy fans dead following fatal confrontations with the Ultras Green Eagles.
In a statement issued before his release, the Ultras Ahlawy said that all charges against Edris were “fabricated,” and slammed the arrest as part of the Ministry of Interior’s systematic security campaigns launched before symbolic revolutionary dates — in this case, the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution.
“The goal of this campaign is well known, aiming to scare and terrify [the Ultras Ahlawy]; and it represents a return to the practices of the oppressive state,” the statement claimed.
Ezabi is defending 64 individuals accused of killing the Ultras Ahlawy fans two years ago. The defendants include police officers and Ultras Green Eagles members.
In January 2013, the Port Said Criminal Court sentenced 21 defendants to death, while meting out life sentences to five others and lesser prison sentences to the remaining 19 individuals found guilty in the case. However, 28 of the defendants were acquitted, including police officers implicated in the tragedy.
Families of the victims appealed the verdict in December.
“We have repeatedly said that we are staying away from your dirty political battlefield over power. We demanded several times to leave us to supporting our football teams, but no one is listening,” the Ultras Ahlawy asserted in the statement.
The statement went on to warn, “Your campaign will do nothing but raise our spirits. If justice will turn victims into criminals, wait for us as criminals.”