An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed death sentences
against 21 people for their role in a deadly 2012 soccer riot
that killed more than 70 people in the city of Port Said.
The ruling sparked fears of riots.
The court also sentenced the city's former security chief, Maj. Gen. Essam Samak, to 15 years in prison.
Judge Sobhi Abdel-Maguid sentenced five more defendants to life in prison and nine beside Samak received 15-year jail terms. Six received 10-year jail terms and two were sent to jail for five years. A single defendant got a 12-month jail term, while a total of 28 were acquitted.
Angry fans set fire to soccer federation HQ (Photo: AFP)
Following the ruling, fans of Cairo's Al-Ahly club stormed Egypt's soccer federation headquarters, setting it ablaze in anger.
Fire also swept through a nearby police club, but it was not immediately clear whether Al-Ahly fans were responsible for that blaze as well. Heavy black smoke billowed out of the rose-colored, three-story neocolonial building in central Cairo.
Egyptians in Port Said watch as judge declares ruling (Photo: AFP)
The 21 death sentences were passed on Jan. 28. Most of those condemned to death are fans of Port Said's Al-Masry club. The announcement led to violent protests in the city, which is located at the tip of the Suez Canal, that left some 40 people dead, most of them shot by police.
The Feb. 2012 riot followed a league match between Al-Masry and Cairo's Al-Ahly club, with Port Said supporters setting upon the visiting fans after the final whistle. The deadly melee is Egypt's worst soccer disaster.
Riots in Port Said earlier this week (Photo: EPA)
Meanwhile, Egypt's Interior Ministry raised a state of emergency in the Sinai Peninsula, saying it had intelligence that jihadists might attack police there, state news agency MENA reported.
"The Minister of Interior has raised the level of emergency in North and South Sinai after receiving information that jihadist groups intend to attack police buildings there," Interior Ministry official General Osama Ismail said, according to MENA.
Roi Kais and Reuters contributed to this report
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