5 Ultras Ahlawy members detained 15 days for 'incitement' ahead of Port Said massacre anniversary

Hadeer El-Mahdawy , Tuesday 31 Jan 2017

Ultras Ahly
Fans wave flags and light flares as police in riot gear stand guard during the Egyptian Premier League soccer match between Ahly and Zamalek in Cairo June 29, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian prosecutors ordered five members of hardcore football fan group that supports Al-Ahly club be detained for 15 days on Monday for allegedly inciting protests, two days ahead of a planned gathering to commemorate the Port Said stadium massacre on 1 February, 2012 in which over 70 people were killed.

The Ultras Ahlawy members, who were arrested on Sunday, face charges of "establishing and leading an illegal group, inciting goals of disturbing public order, possessing explosives and inciting unlicensed protests," their lawyer Mokhtar Mounir told Ahram Online.

Seventy-two fans of Egypt’s most popular club Ahly died in the coastal city of Port Said five years ago after being attacked by rival Masry supporters following the end of a league match.

"The five are aged between 21 and 30 years old. They are detained in Dhaher police station in Cairo, while the other four members of the group that are also summoned for the same charges have not yet been arrested," Mounir added.

The exhibits found at the houses of the five defendants, according to Mounir, were Ahly t-shirts signed by players of the team, stickers commemorating the Port Said victims, scarves of the club, and fireworks.

"Another number of Ultras members were arrested from Matariya in Cairo, and Alexandria, then released later," Mounir said.

The Ahly fan group had said in a statement following the arrests that dozens of special police forces "stormed houses of some of the group members, arrested them and their family members, stole their belongings and destroyed everything" in an attempt to prevent the "commemoration of the Port Said martyrs."

On Monday, the group said in another statement they would still hold the gathering at the Tetsh playground in Ahly Sports Club in Cairo on Wednesday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the killings.

The statement added that the commemoration does not need any approval as it is the group's decision alone, and no one can cancel it or decide to transfer it as it is not a game nor a protest.

"This day is known for everyone, and it will be remembered in the same place for which the 72 fans died," the statement read.

"Five years have passed and none of those responsible for the massacre nor those who committed it were held to account," it continued.

"In the past few days the current and the old group members have been receiving clear warnings not to be at the club area on the day of the memorial, and a number of the group's members were arrested from their houses," it read.

Eleven people were given death sentences and more than a dozen were handed lengthy prison terms over their role in the killings but the diehard fans believe the real culprits remain untouched. The sentences are being appealed before the Court of Cassation.

Nine police officials are among the 73 defendants standing retrial on charges related to the killing of the young fans, with final verdicts yet to be read or carried out.

A court of urgent matters in May 2015 banned Ultras fan clubs over terrorism concerns.

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