Egypt President Recognises Port Said Football Victims As Martyrs

President Mohamed Morsi has issued a presidential decree which mandates the inclusion of the Port Said football massacre victims in the official list of the revolution’s martyred and injured.

The announcement, made on Tuesday by the head of the National Council for Aiding Families of the Revolution’s Martyrs, Khaled Badawi, comes days prior to a highly-anticipated verdict on Saturday in the cases related to the Port Said events.

A total of 379 defendants, including nine security officials, three Masry football club officials and a number of fans, are on trial for their suspected role in the disaster, which took place in February last year and led to the indefinite suspension of domestic football activity and ensuing violent protests in several governorates around the country.

Egypt’s worst-ever football tragedy left more than 70 Ahly fans dead after they were attacked by Masry fans at an Ahly-Masry match in the Port Said stadium on 1 February 2012.

The verdict presents security concerns, as the Ultras Ahlawy, the hardcore fans of Ahly, vowed to take matters into their own hands if the verdict does not satisfy them. Many of the fans killed were members of the group.

One of the Ultras’ demands was that the victims and injured of the Port Said events were added to the official listing of designated martyrs, in order for their families to receive state-sponsored aid.

The demand was supported by Ahly football team as well as by the Egyptian Football Association. The matter was put under the authority of former prime minister Kamal El-Ganzouri upon the dissolution of parliament in June last year.

Notably, new evidence in the trial was given to Port Said Criminal Court on Monday by the prosecutor-general, raising expectations that the court might order a reinvestigation into the case during Saturday’s session, instead of announcing its verdict.

Ahram