Egypt's prosecution says deaths of Zamalek fans 'due to stampede'

Ahram Online , Monday 9 Feb 2015

On Sunday, 19 Zamalek fans died as police used tear gas to disperse large crowds attempting to make their way to a football match in the Egyptian Premier League

Police fire tear gas in clashes with supporters of Egypt
Police fire tear gas in clashes with supporters of Egypt's Zamalek Sports Club ahead of a match on the outskirts of Cairo February 8, 2015 (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's prosecution said on Monday that the death of dozens of Zamalek Club fans was due to a stampede and that the deaths which occurred were not the result of birdshot.

On Sunday, 19 Zamalek Ultras White Knights (UWK) died as police dispersed large crowds attempting to make their way to attend a football match in the Egyptian Premier League.

The prosecution, in a press communiqué, said the stampede caused broken necks, bruised chests and faces which then led to the fatalities.

Hesham Abdel-Hamid, spokesman for Egypt's Forensic Medicine Authority meanwhile told the Ahram Arabic website that the deaths resulted from asphyxiation because of the spread of teargas in the air.

The prosecution team also examined the scene of the clashes at Cairo Air Defence Stadium where it found no evidence of the use of live ammunition or birdshot.

Clothes and personal belongings were found at the scene, along with burnt tires, rocks and the remains of fireworks, the prosecution statement added.

The prosecution also noted that a part of the stadium's gate was broken.

Following the deadly events, Egypt's cabinet suspended the league for an indefinite period.

Meanwhile, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed in a statement the importance of completing the investigations to uncover the circumstances which led to the fatalities and to determine the culprits.

The Egyptian interior ministry said the clashes occurred after Ultras White Knights members tried to attend the game without buying tickets.

"The Zamalek fans tried to get in by force, and we had to prevent them from damaging public property," the ministry said in a statement.

Ultras White Knights disputed the ministry's account, saying they were tear-gassed as they scrambled to enter the stadium in where they were left with only a "tiny metal fence surrounded by barbed wire," to get through.

Eyewitnesses at the scene said the police didn't start dispersing the crowd using water cannons, which is the standard procedure according to the protest law, and instead used teargas.

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