Cairo: An Egyptian court today handed down death sentences for 21 people accused of taking part in soccer violence last year that killed 74.
The verdict has led to fresh violence in Egyptian city of Port Said. The families of the sentenced gathered in front of a prison in Port Said where the defendants are being kept in an attempt to release them.
The police tried to disperse them by tear gas and chased them down the streets of the city centre. Rubber bullets were exchanged between both sides.
The verdict came as surprise for many as all experts expected acquittal.
The judge said in his statement read live on state TV that he would announce the verdict for the remaining 52 defendants on March 9.
Among those on trial are nine security officials. The soccer melee on February 1, 2012 between Port Said's Al-Masry fans and Cairo's Al-Ahly fans was the world's deadliest soccer violence in 15 years.
As is customary in Egypt, the death sentences will be sent to a top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for approval.