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Egyptian Football Trial: 22 Killed In Port Said Riots After Football Fans Handed Death Sentences

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At least 22 Egyptians have been killed in the city of Port Said on Saturday. Riots were sparked after a judge handed down death sentences to 21 football fans on trial over a horrific stadium riot that left scores dead in the city last year.

Following Saturday's sentences, supporters and families of the accused stormed police stations and the prison holding the 21 men, while the families of those killed amongst February riot celebrated the verdict on the streets and at home.

According to Egyptian security officials, most of those killed were involved in assaults on the governor's office, courthouse and prison in the port following the end of the trial.

The violence came the day after significant protests against the country's president, Mohammad Morsi, on the second anniversary of the overthrowing of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

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Fans of the Cairo club celebrate the verdict on Saturday

Violence erupted after two police officers were shot at the Port Said prison, with rioting on the streets leading to the death of at least a further 20 Egyptians, with 200 more injured. The Egyptian army has been deployed to try to take control of the situation.

In February last year, the match between bitter rivals al-Ahly and al-Masry witnessed crowds invading the pitch as the game descended into a chaos. Thousands headed to the exits, resulting in the death of 74 people in the subsequent stampedes.

A total of 73 people, including nine police officers, have been charged over the day's events. Fifty-two have yet to be sentenced.

Sobhi Abdel-Maguiat, the judge who condemned the 21 men to be hanged, is set to announce the remaining sentences on March 9.

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Families of the accused say the sentences are too severe

Supporters of the accused claim there is no basis for the convictions, while one defendant's lawyer claims the harsh sentences are nothing but "a political decision to calm the public".

Supporters of both clubs involved in the riots believe that former members of ex-dictator Hosni Mubarak's regime instigated the violence in Port Said immediately after the match, claiming the police were responsible for gross negligence in their handling of fans.

On Friday, five people were reportedly shot dead in the Egyptian city of Suez on Friday during nationwide protests on the second anniversary of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

In the capital, police dispersed protestors with tear gas as they attempted to penetrate barbed-wire fences around the presidential palace, while government offices were attacked with petrol bombs near Tahrir Square - the place of iconic protests during the uprising of 2011.

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Families of those killed at the football riots last February celebrate in court

Morsi, who was democratically elected president of Egypt in June, has been heavily criticised by the nation for his inability to revive the Egyptian economy - the Egyptian pound is at a record low against the dollar - and his attempt to enforce a new Islam-focussed constitution on the country.

According to Reuters, a further 280 civilians and 55 security officials were injured as Egyptians took to the streets to demonstrate against the Islamic Brotherhood-backed government of Mohamed Morsi.

The deaths capped a day of violence in the country, with multiple reports of clashes between police and protestors in Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said.

In the capital, police dispersed protestors with tear gas as they attempted to penetrate barbed-wire fences around the presidential palace, while government offices were attacked with petrol bombs near Tahrir Square - the place of iconic protests during the uprising of 2011.

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At least 22 dead in Port Said as Egyptians protest against football death ...