Egypt Independent

After verdict, tense calm in Port Said



On Saturday, the Port Said Criminal Court confirmed the death sentence of 21 defendants accused of killing 72 Ahly fans after a game turned violent last year in the Suez Canal city. The court found seven of nine policemen accused in the case innocent, while two senior officers got 15 years in jail and a life sentence, including the former head of the Port Said Security Directorate. The seven officers are among 28 defendants found innocent. 

Before the verdict, the city was tense as residents anxiously waited to hear the fate of the accused. In the days leading up to the ruling, violent clashes ensued between protesters and security forces amid the city’s almost month-long civil disobedience campaign. Police forces pulled out and were replaced by military forces, and a relative calm prevailed with residents, adamant on not clashing with the army.

As the ruling was read out early Saturday, anger erupted among shocked residents as the judge confirmed the 21 death penalties. But the protests that followed were surprisingly peaceful, and a far cry from the bloodshed and violence the city saw the first time the death sentences were read out last month, resulting in more than 40 deaths.

Protesters entered the port overlooking the Suez Canal and set tires on fire, but no further escalations occurred. When they approached the local Interior Ministry, army officers on site convinced them to march away peacefully.

Masry Ultras gathered in a cafe in Port Said to watch the annoucement on TV of the final verdict of the case of the Port Said football massacre.

An army officer is feted by a group of protesters who say that the Armed Forces will bring stability and safety to Port Said.

Army supporters shouting at an Al Jazeera broadcast being showed from the Palace Hotel balcony in Port Said, angry that the channel blames the Armed Forces for the recent clashes in Port Said.

Smoke rises from fires set by protesters in an attempt to block boats from docking in the Suez Canal after the final verdict is announced in the Port Said football trial.

Young people watch tires burning beside the Suez Canal.

Young people watch tires burning beside the Suez Canal.

A crowd watches the coast guard trying to extinguish the fire set by Port Said protesters.

Many shops in Port Said remain close as residents press a civil disobedience campaign, ongoing for at least two weeks to protest the city's marginalization by the central government and to demand justice for more than 40 protesters killed in clashes with the police since 26 January.

Many shops in Port Said remain close as residents press a civil disobedience campaign, ongoing for at least two weeks to protest the city's marginalization by the central government and to demand justice for more than 40 protesters killed in clashes with the police since 26 January.