14 February 2016

Egypt: Court Orders Reinvestigation Into Deadly 'Air Defence Stadium' Violence

Cairo — The Cairo criminal court ordered on Sunday a reinvestigation into the violence which took place ahead of a football game in early 2015, leaving at least 19 people dead.

The widely popular Egyptian sporting club Zamalek was about to play against Enppi at Cairo's Air Defence Stadium, in a football game scheduled for the night of Feb. 8, 2015. Members of Ultras White Knights, ardent supporters of Zamelek, and other Zamalek fans had gathered in large numbers outside the air defense stadium but they found an unusual setup.

A metal gate was built outside the stadium, which many of Zamalek's fans died trapped within. The exact details which led to the deaths remain contested.

About a month after the deadly violence, Egyptian prosecutors accused the Muslim Brotherhood of coordinating with the ultras group to carry out acts of violence ahead of the game and referred 16 people to trial.

The prosecution said the Muslim Brotherhood funded ultras members and provided them with explosive materials. The defendants were charged with murder, vandalism, resisting the authorities and the possession of explosive materials.

In a trial hearing today, the court said the investigation, which included eyewitnesses' testimonies, "is not sufficient" for the court to reach a decision. Accordingly, the court ordered a reinvestigation.

Last Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the deaths outside the Air Defence Stadium. In a memorial, members of Ultras White Knights gathered in park in Cairo to "claim the rights" of the people killed last year while trying to make their way into the football game.

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