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We cannot be judge and jury in Port Said massacre: Ultras

El-Sisi called on the Ultras group to ‘look into all the details concerning the case and determine what more can be done’

Ahram Online , Wednesday 3 Feb 2016
Ultras Ahlaway
An archival for Ultras Ahlaway group in a stadium (Photo: Al Ahram)
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The Ultras Ahlawy group have responded to a call by Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to oversee the investigations of the 2012 Port Said massacre, which took the lives of 72 football fans.

“We can't be the judge and the jury at the same time in the Port Said massacre trial, but presenting more facts and evidence to the public will help clarify the case and give it a better perspective,” Ultras Ahlawy group said in a Facebook statement on Tuesday.

The statement was a response to President El-Sisi’s call on them to oversee investigations of the incident, which took place in February 2012 and resulted in the death of 72 spectators.

"The president's invitation to the group to be part of the investigations is unexpected and shows that he is paying attention, while many media personalities are attacking young people who are just in love with their club by describing them as terrorists," the Ultras Ahlawy said.

"What we need to do is bring charges against top security officials implicated in this massacre, and whose names were mentioned in the prosecution's investigations. [They should be investigated] whether they participated by planning it or by negligence or by withholding evidence in the case," the statement added.

On Monday, President El-Sisi called on the group in a phone interview with Al-Qahera Al-Youm show on Orbit channel to "select ten of their members whom they trust to be part of a committee to look into all the details concerning this case and determine what more can be done.”

The president's call comes following a demonstration by thousands of the group’s members on 1 February, the anniversary of the massacre, at the headquarters of Al-Ahly, Egypt’s most popular football club.

The demonstrators paid tribute to their dead comrades as they chanted against both Mohamed Hussein Tantawi (El-Sisi’s predecessor as army chief and Egypt’s de facto ruler at the time) and the interior ministry, accusing them of complicity in the country's most deadly football tragedy.

Although 11 people were given death sentences and more than a dozen were handed lengthy prison terms over their role in the disaster, the diehard fans still believe the real culprits remain untouched.

Since their foundation in 2007, Ultras groups have often clashed with security forces during matches, with the tragic incident at Port Said bringing the accumulating enmity between the police and Ultras groups to a peak.

“In events with large crowds, it’s always difficult to determine the truth behind what happened,” El-Sisi added before listing some of the incidents which pitted protesters against security forces during the tumultuous years that followed the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

In Tuesday's statement, the Ultras Ahlawy also called on officials to bring back fans to attend football matches, as stadiums have rarely witnessed large crowds since the incident. 

"Young people are repeatedly taking initiatives to return to their place on the football fields and now we are asking the state to restore the soul of the stadiums," the statement said.

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