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Clashes erupt after Egypt court sentences 21 to death over football riot

Cairo, Jan 26 (): At least twenty-two were killed in the Egyptian city of Port Said on Saturday in clashes which sparked in protest at an Egyptian court ruling sentencing 21 people to death. Those 21 were sentenced over riots which killed 74 people after a football game at Port Said stadium last February.

Judge Sobhi Abdel-Maguid said in his statement read live on state TV that he would announce the verdict for the remaining 52 defendants on March 9. All 21 culprits sentenced to death on Saturday were fans of Port Said club al-Masry. Among those on trial are nine security officials.

Totally seventy-three people have been charged with involvement in the February 1, 2012 disaster at the end of a match between Cairo’s al-Ahly and al-Masry, the local team.

The last year clash left over 70 people dead and sparked days of violent protests in the capital, which claimed 16 more lives further. It was the deadliest football-related incident in 15 years and the worst in Egypt’s history.

The court verdict comes the day after the two-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Demonstrations that began Friday have continued into a second day.

Clashes broke out between relatives of those sentenced to death and police guarding the prison where those convicted are being held. Unidentified attackers used automatic weapons against police who responded with tear gas, witnesses said.

Those killed on Saturday morning included two policemen shot dead. At least 75 people were wounded in Saturday’s violence outside the prison and more than 450 wounded in unrest across Egypt. Port Said residents also cut off the main road leading to the city.

A senior army officer said troops are being sent to Port Said and the army units were deployed on the city’s streets following the violence.

President Morsi appealed for calm and vowed that authorities would bring lawbreakers to justice.