(AA) – An Egyptian court on Sunday referred 11 defendants in absentia to the country’s mufti to consider possible death sentences against them over the killing of dozens of football fans in Port Said in 2012.
The court set May 30 to issue its final verdict in the lawsuit, in which 73 defendants – including nine former security officials – stand accused of complicity in the murder of 74 football fans following a game between football clubs Port Said’s Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly in 2012.
The mufti’s opinion is not binding for the court, but Egyptian law makes it necessary for judges to seek a religious point of view on possible death sentences.
The 2012 “stadium massacre” had followed a football match, when hundreds of fans of the host team invaded the pitch and attacked Al-Ahly supporters.
The violence sent shockwaves across the country and embarrassed Egypt’s then-ruling Supreme Military Council, which had assumed executive authority after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.
In 2013, the Port Said Criminal Court sentenced 21 of the defendants to death, five to life in prison, ten to 15 years behind bars, six to ten years, two to five years and one to one year.
The following year, an Egyptian court ordered a retrial after Egypt’s Court of Cassation – the country’s top appellate court – accepted appeals filed against earlier court verdicts in the case.