Egypt court seeks death for 11 in soccer stadium case

CAIRO (REUTERS/AFP) - An Egyptian court on Sunday took a step towards imposing the death penalty on 11 men for involvement in deadly soccer stadium violence in 2012, a televised session showed.

The judge referred the sentencing to Egypt's Grand Mufti, the country's most senior religious authority, a step towards the death penalty, which could be imposed at a later court hearing on May 30.

The Grand Mufti's decision is not binding but referral is needed in order to impose the death sentence.

The case is a retrial of the 2012 football stadium riot in the canal city of Port Said that left 74 people dead. 

The riot erupted in February 2012 when fans of home team Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly clashed after a match between the two clubs.

An appeals court had ordered the retrial of 73 defendants in February last year after rejecting a lower court verdict sentencing 21 people to death for being involved in the incident. 

The 73 defendants include nine police officers and three officials from Al-Masry club, while the rest were fans of the two clubs.

None of the families of the victims or defendants attended Sunday’s court session. The court held its sessions in Cairo for security reasons.

Sunday’s verdict can be appealed.