75 on trial over deadly Egypt football disaster

Above: Aftermath of the riot after a football match in Port Said on Feburary 1, 2012.

CAIRO - The trial begins on Tuesday of 75 people in connection with football riots in the northern city of Port Said in February that left more than 70 people dead.

Nine policemen are among the defendants in the trial, which is being held in Cairo for security reasons. State television reported that the interior ministry and armed forces have implemented a major security plan.

On February 1, clashes in the Suez Canal city of Port Said between fans of home side Al-Masry and Cairo's Al-Ahly erupted at the final whistle.

Al-Masry fans invaded the pitch after their team beat the visitors 3-1, throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at Al-Ahly supporters, causing chaos and panic as players and fans fled in all directions.

The violence in which more than 70 people were killed was one of the deadliest incidents in football history, and came amid charges from witnesses that security forces did little to prevent the rioting.

The stadium deaths sparked days of violent protests in Cairo, in which another 16 people were killed.

Many Egyptians believe the football riot was orchestrated either by the police or supporters of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, a reflection of the distrust felt towards the country's ruling military.

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