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Military court postpones verdict in Ultras White Knights stadium fire case

A criminal military court postponed issuing a verdict to eight members of Zamalek Football Club’s fan group the Ultras White Knights on Tuesday. The defendants, who include leading ultras members Sayed Moshagheb and Yasser Bugo, are now set to hear a verdict on July 24, according to lawyer Osama al-Gohary.

The eight defendants face charges of joining an illegal organization, establishing an illegal organization, as well as charges relating to fires in several large-scale venues around Cairo in 2015, Gohary told Mada Masr.

The court was previously set to announce a verdict in the case on April 24. Tuesday’s postponements is the eighth time the court has delayed its decision, according to Gohary.

Case 94/2017 dates back to March 2015, when the Cairo Stadium and the Cairo International Conference Center, both in Nasr City, and the Hadaf Stadium in 6th of October City were set alight. Although the Interior Ministry had announced that the fire at the conference center was caused by a short electrical circuit at the time of the incident, the case was subsequently referred to a military court in February 2017, Gohary said.

The referral was pursuant to the military judiciary law and the Constitution, which allow for civilians to be brought to trial before a military court if they are accused of crimes involving property belonging to, or under the protection of the Armed Forces.

Besides the White Knights case, Moshagheb has been in custody in relation to a number of cases since he was arrested in March 2015, in relation to the Air Defense Stadium, in which he is currently awaiting a verdict from the Court of Cassation, expected to be issued in October of this year, regarding his appeal against a seven-year sentence handed to him in September 2017, according to Gohary.

Moshagheb was previously charged with breaking into a National Security Agency headquarters in 2013, but received an acquittal in October 2017. He was also accused of attempting to assassinate the head of Zamalek F.C. Mortada Mansour in August 2014, but was also later acquitted on this charge in November 2016.

Dozens of Egyptian football fans have been detained on similar charges since the Ultras White Knights and Ultras Ahlawy, al-Ahly Football Club’s fan group, were outlawed by Egyptian authorities in May 2015.

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