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236 ultras referred to military prosecution in Alexandria

The Alexandria Public Prosecution referred 236 football fans to military prosecution on Thursday, lawyer Mohamed Hafez told Mada Masr.

The football fans, who belong to the Zamalek Club’s fan group Ultras White Knights, were arrested from the area around Borg al-Arab Stadium after a football match on July 9. They are accused of belonging to and leading an illegal organization, using terrorism to achieve this organization’s targets, possessing fireworks and attacking police personnel, among other charges.

According to Hafez, Public Prosecution referred the case to military prosecution on the grounds that the stadium is owned by the Armed Forces. Egypt’s military judiciary law allows civilians to be tried before military courts if they have committed crimes at institutions administered by the Armed Forces.

Hafez told Mada Masr that the defendants’ lawyers have been unable to access the case files, and have not seen any evidence linking them to the crimes they are alleged to have committed. He added that he believes they were arrested at random.

Alongside the military judiciary law, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a law in October 2014 extending the Armed Forces authority to protect public institutions and buildings, including electricity stations, gas pipelines, railways, roads and “any other public facilities and institutions.” Rights groups have criticized the law, which increases expands the jurisdiction of Egypt’s military courts. Since the January 25 revolution authorities have increasingly referred civilians to military trial.

The crackdown on football fan groups, who have been involved in numerous clashes with security forces, has also increased since 2011.

This story was amended after it was first published. 

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