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Saturday
Mar092013

Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Port Said Braces for Protests After Court Verdicts

Soldiers stand guard in front of the Security Directorate on Friday (Photo: Reuters)

See also Syria Live Coverage: Regime Shelling Prevents Release of 21 UN Peacekeepers
Saudi Arabia Feature: The Protests in the Central Cities
Friday's Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Policemen on Strike


1715 GMT: Egypt. Three people have now been killed in clashes in Cairo, following the verdicts handed down over the Port Said football deaths, is now three.

An eight-year-old child and a worker were found dead inside Omar Makram mosque near CTahrir Square. Both were killed by birdshot during fighting near Qasr El-Nil Bridge.

Ambulance personnel refused to transport the corpses to the morgue, leaving them at the mosque instead.

1625 GMT: Egypt. Back from a Saturday day to find that a protester has been killed by tear gas inhalation near Qasr El-Nil Bridge in Cairo.

Fadel Ahmed Abdel-Qader, 36, died after he was transferred to Qasr El-Eini Hospital suffering from breathing problems.

Fourteen people, including nine suffering from teargas inhalation and four injured in the fire set by protesters at the Police Club, are in hospital.

Demonstrators have thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at the Semiramis Hotel near Cairo's Tahrir Square, destroying part of the entrance,

Ahram Online reporter Bel Trew says that the atmosphere in Port Said is "eerily quiet".

1255 GMT: Egypt. The latest from protests after the Port Said verdicts....

Police have blocked all the roads leading to the Ministry of Interior headquarters in downtown Cairo. The area is surrounded by Central Security Forces and barbed wire. Security has been also increased around Cairo Security Directorate.

The Ministry of Health says five people have been injured after fires were set at the Police Club and the Egypt Footbell Association's headquarters in the capital.

Hundreds of Ahly football fans are reported to have attacked fire engines trying to reach the torched buildings, injuring several firemen and smashing some trucks’ windows.

A spokesman for the Suez Canal Authority, Tarek Hassaneim, said the Canal has not been affected by protests in Port Said and shipping traffic is “completely safe".

1038 GMT: Saudi Arabia. A court in Riyadh has sentenced prominent activists Mohammed Fahad al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamed to lengthy prison sentences and travel ban for founding an unlicenced human rights organisation.

The judge ordered the dissolution of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association and the confiscation of its property, including the closure of its websites and social media accounts.

Al-Qahtani was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a 10-year travel ban. His ACPRA co-founder al-Hamed was sentenced to five years in prison, with six years added from a previous sentence that the King had pardoned in 2006. He was also given a five-year travel ban.

The two men have been on trial since June.

1025 GMT: Egypt. Back from a Saturday break to find the reaction to the verdicts in Port Said on 52 defendants over the February 2012 deaths in the city's football stadium (see 0815 GMT).

Hundreds of protesters are threatening to stop the ferries that cross from Port Said to Port Fouad, on the other side of the Suez Canal. Some demonstrators have untied moored speedboats used to supply shipping on the Canal, apparently hoping the boats would drift into the waterway and disrupt passing vessels.

Other protesters marched from the Port Said Governorate headquarters down a main street, chanting against the Ministers of Justice and Interior.

In Cairo, suppporters of the Ahly football club --- many of whose fans died in the February 2012 incident --- have set the police station in the Gezira district on fire. The Egyptian Football Federation building, adjacent to the Ahly Club, has been ransacked.

0825 GMT: Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch has called on Saudi authorities to disclose the whereabouts and condition of detained Jordanian activist Khaled al-Natour, freeing him or charge him with a recognisable criminal offence.

Saudi security forces detained al-Natour at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh on 6 January and have held him incommunicado for two months.

0815 GMT: Egypt. Sentences have now been handed down on today's 52 defendants. They include four life sentences; 10 prison sentences ranging from 10-15 years; five sentences of ten years; and two sentences of five years.

Twenty-eight defendants have been acquitted of all charges.

Two policeman were given 15 years each in prison; however, seven others and two officials of the Port Said Mssry football club were cleared.

In Cairo, fans of the Ahly football club have been celebrating with fireworks and anti-police chants. Many of the 74 killed in the Port Said stadium last February were Ahly supporters.

0810 GMT: Egypt. The court hearing has opened, with the presiding judge confirming the death sentences issued on 26 January against 21 defendants.

0800 GMT: Egypt. Security forces have deployed in Port Said, ahead of this morning's second set of verdicts for those charged with complicity in the deaths of 74 football fans in the city's stadium in February 2012.

On 26 January, the Port Said court sentenced 21 out of 73 defendants to death. Amid the ensuing protests, more than  40 people --- almost all civilians --- were killed. The city has seen near-daily protests since then.

The fate of the 52 remaining defendants, including nine security officials and Port Said Masry club staff, will be decided Saturday.

In the last week, hundreds have been injured and at least five killed, with clashes sparked by the move of 39 defendants to an unknown location.

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