An Egyptian court today sentenced 21 peopleÂ to death after they were involved in a riot following a football match in whichÂ 74 people were killed.
The controversial verdict prompted furtherÂ bloodshed, as 27 people were killed during reactionary riots outside the Mediterranean city of Port Said’s mainÂ jail today.
The unrest is part of a wave of violence thatÂ has swept Egypt, leaving a total of 38 people dead in two days.
Today, Britain called for ‘maximum restraint’ and stronglyÂ condemned the violence.
On Friday, 11 people were killed in clashesÂ betweenÂ police and protesters who were marking the second anniversary of theÂ uprising that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
President Mohammed Morsi canceled aÂ scheduled trip to Ethiopia Saturday and instead met for the first timeÂ withÂ top generals as part of the newly formed National Defense Council.
The violence in Port Said followedÂ the courtÂ decision when angry relatives of those sentenced tried toÂ storm the prison toÂ free the defendants, shooting dead two policeÂ officers, according toÂ reports.
Egyptian security officials said the militaryÂ had been deployed to the city,Â where most of those sentenced are from, asÂ police became embroiled inÂ violent clashes with protestors.
Officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets atÂ those demonstrating, who feel aggrieved that they are shouldering the blame forÂ the riots.
The violence during the match last year wasÂ the world’s worst football related disaster in 15 years.
Fans of Al-Ahly, whose stands wereÂ attackedÂ by rival club Al-Masry in theÂ Mediterranean city of Port Said, had promisedÂ more violence if theÂ accused did not receive death sentences.
Families of the those killed during theÂ disorder wailed in the courtroom as the judge gave the sentence, while someÂ shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ – Arabic for God is great
One man fainted, while others wailed andÂ cried in disbelief as they carried pictures of the young men killed in theÂ soccer riot.
The judge said in his statement, readÂ liveÂ on state TV, that he would announce the verdict for the remainingÂ 52 defendantsÂ at a later date.
While many of those on trial included allegedÂ football hooligans, nine security officials also face charges.
The death sentences will be sent to a topÂ religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for approval, asÂ is customary in Egypt.
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt saidÂ the violence which has been seen in the past two days ‘can have no place in aÂ truly democratic Egypt’.
‘I am deeply concerned by reports of violentÂ clashes resulting in aÂ number of deaths and injuries, following demonstrationsÂ to mark theÂ second anniversary of the 25 January revolution and the verdict inÂ theÂ Port Said court case today,’ he said.
‘This cannot help the process of dialogueÂ which we encourage as vitalÂ for Egypt today, and we must condemn the violenceÂ in the strongestÂ terms.
Source: The Daily Mail