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Court orders appeal of Port Said massacre verdict

Cairo Appeals Court ordered on Thursday the retrial of 73 defendants allegedly involved in the killing of 72 Ahly soccer fans in the Port Said massacre in February 2012.

The court accepted the appeals of the defendants, who received various sentences ranging from death penalties, imprisonment and acquittals by Port Said Criminal Court.

In January 2013, the court sentenced 21 defendants to death, while meting out life sentences to five others and smaller 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.

Both defendants and families of the soccer fan victims appealed the verdict in December.

Cairo Criminal Court ordered that the defendants would be retried in front of a court that is different to the one that issued the previous ruling.

Clashes broke out between fans of Ultras Ahlawy and the Green Eagles fan group during a soccer game between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry teams in February 2012.

The members of the two soccer fan clubs are known for the extreme animosity between them, and members of the Green Eagles allegedly threatened Ultras Ahlawy fans before the game.

Police forces securing the game were criticized by some for failing to prevent supporters, while other critics raised the allegations to a higher level and accused police forces of being complicit in planning the massacre to revenge Ultras Ahlawy fans for their role in protests. Fans have frequently chanted against the police and the military council during previous games.

Ultras Ahlawy said in an official statement Thursday following the court verdict that a retrial does not necessarily mean acquitting all defendants.

“In the end we are not awaiting anything from the judiciary, because  retribution for the blood [of those who died] will only come by our own hands,” the statement said.

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