[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 21 people who were found guilty of involvement in last year’s Port Said soccer stadium disaster to the death penalty. The ruling comes almost a year after the February 1, 2012 tragedy that killed 74 people and injured more than 1,000 when fans of Al-Masry violently stormed the stands and attacked Al-Ahly fans after Al-Masry won a soccer match. After the sentence was announced, protestors who were angry that people from their city were sentenced and blamed for the disaster rioted and killed at least 30 people [NBC report]. There have been 73 people charged overall for involvement in the disaster, and there will be more verdicts announced [Reuters report] on March 9. The verdicts still must be reviewed and approved by the country’s top religious authority, as are all death penalty verdicts in Egypt.
Egypt has been plagued by protests and violence since the beginning of the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] two years ago. Nine people were killed yesterday [Reuters report] and 456 were injured after protestors clashed violently with police officers in protests against President Mohammed Mursi. The protestors were sparked by the protestors’ belief that, two years after the revolution against former President Hosni Mubarak began on January 25, 2011, nothing has changed and Mursi is not upholding the principles of the revolution. Earlier this week, an Egyptian rights group reported [JURIST report] that police abuse and torture are ongoing issues and that police conduct has not improved since the abuses faced under the old regime.