On Saturday, the Port Said Criminal Court issued 50 defendants lengthy prison sentences after finding them guilty of attempting to forcefully storm the Port Said General Prison in January 2013, an incident that left many dead.
Reuters reported that the Port Said Criminal Court convened in New Cairo’s Police Academy to issue its verdict today, owing to security concerns.
Of the 50 defendants accused in the case, 20 were sentenced to life in prison, while 12 others were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and 18 were sentenced to five years imprisonment.
These defendants were found guilty of charges including: premeditated murder, attempted murder, illegal assembly, terrorizing the populace and the destruction of public and private property.
Those found guilty must also pay compensatory fines for the material damages incurred.
In his finding in the case, the presiding judge Justice Mohamed al-Said wrote that “behind these defendants is a group of evil criminals,” reported the privately owned Al-Mesryoon news agency.
The state-owned Al-Akhbar news agency reported that the case initially involved 51 defendants, one of whom died during the course of the lengthy trial. Of the remaining 50 defendants, 45 were present during Saturday’s sentencing while five others were sentenced in absentia. However, defendants in the case may appeal Saturday’s verdict.
Violent protests in the northern Suez Canal city took place around the Port Said General Prison on January 26, 2013, after a court issued death sentences to 21 defendants charged with inciting a deadly riot that occurred on February 1, 2012, at the Port Said Stadium.
In the 2012 incident, 72 people were killed and hundreds were injured after throngs of fans from Port Said’s local al-Masry football club attacked supporters of the competing al-Ahly football club at the conclusion of the match, even though Masry had won the match, 3 – 1.
The protest of the verdict lasted for three days with some local media outlets reporting that individuals attempted to orchestrate a prison break to release inmates. In total, 42 individuals were killed, including two police officers. Hundreds of others were reportedly injured during the violence.
Ultras Ahlawy – the clubs hardcore football fans – claimed that the 2012 riot was a politically motivated act orchestrated by security forces seeking revenge against the ultras who had been instrumental in the 2011 popular uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. However, security forces have denied these claims.