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Trial for Port Said disaster suspects to begin on 17 April

The trial of 73 suspects, who face various charges over the Port Said disaster, to start on 17 April in Cairo

Hatem Maher, Saturday 31 Mar 2012
Ahly's hardcore fans began a sit-in in front of the People's Assembly last week

The trial of 73 suspects involved in Egypt’s worst-ever football disaster will start on 17 April, state-run news agency MENA said on Saturday.

The trial will take place at Cairo’s Police Academy rather than Port Said due to security concerns, MENA added.

At least 74 football fans were killed and hundreds injured in the coastal city when thousands of Masry supporters stormed the pitch to confront Ahly’s visiting contingent following the end of an Egyptian Premier League game on the first of February.

The disaster sent shockwaves across Egypt and forced an indefinite suspension of all football activities in a country still struggling to restore order following the 2011 January revolution that brought to an end Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year autocratic rule.

Ahly’s hardcore supporters, Ultras Ahlawy, began an open-ended sit-in in front of the People’s Assembly last Sunday, demanding retribution for the victims of Port Said.

They were also enraged by what they perceived as “lenient sanctions” imposed on Masry by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), which banned the club for two seasons and decided to shut the Port Said Stadium for three years.

The suspects include nine security officials in Port Said and three Masry clubs officials, all of whom are accused of negligence.

Dozens of Masry supporters are facing various charges, including premeditated murder and holding bladed weapons which they used to kill Ahly’s fans, according to the public prosecution investigations.

Port Said witnessed fierce clashes between angry protesters and the army earlier this month after the EFA announced their sanctions on Masry.

The confrontation left a 13-year-old boy dead and at least 65 wounded, according to the Egyptian health ministry.

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