A Cairo court of cassation upheld a one-year prison sentence against 11 Zamalek Football Club fans, the Ultras White Knights (UWK), on Saturday for the attempted murder of club head Mortada Mansour in 2014.
The 11 ultras were convicted of the illegal possession of arms and fireworks, vandalizing Zamalek Club property, the illegal show of force, and endangering the lives of citizens, as well as allegedly firing birdshot at Mansour as he was exiting the club’s headquarters in August 2014.
Of the 11 sentenced on Saturday, six have already been in prison for a year and were therefore released, while five others who were arrested later are still serving their sentences, lawyer Osama al-Gohary told Mada Masr.
There were a total of 21 defendants when the case was first opened, four of whom were acquitted, including prominent UWK leader Sayed Moshagheb, while the others were sentenced in January 2016 to five years in prison with labor, before their sentences were reduced in a retrial a month later. One of the fans was convicted in absentia, and five more are yet to be given a final verdict.
The sentences were based on the testimonies of four of the defendants, with the previous verdict being challenged based on the inadmissibility of these confessions, as they were made in the absence of a lawyer, Gohary explained. But the prosecution ruled a one-year sentence is minimal in relation to the 25-year maximum penalty the defendants could have faced.
Mansour aggravated fans by preventing them from attending games at the club and calling on security forces to intervene in protests against him. Tensions escalated in early 2015, when 22 fans were killed in a stampede outside the Air Defense Stadium during a game between Zamalek and ENPPI.
Earlier this year more than 20 UWK were arrested for allegedly demanding the prosecution of Mansour during an Egypt-Tunisia game at Cairo International Stadium. A banner raised by fans during the match accused Mansour of responsibility for the deaths of fans at Cairo Air Force Defense Stadium.
In May 2015, a Cairo court declared all ultras groups terrorist organizations.
Conflicts between ultras, club managers and security forces have been linked by some to the role the fans played in confronting police on January 28, 2011, in the mass demonstrations that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.