March 8 (Bloomberg) -- Protests expected to follow an Egyptian court ruling scheduled for tomorrow on a fatal soccer riot may spark “significant violence,” the U.S. embassy said.
The decision could cause disorder “through the weekend in both Cairo and Port Said,” the embassy said on its website. Americans should “carefully weigh all movements beyond residences and immediate neighborhoods, particularly avoiding the downtown area of Cairo.” British citizens were also told in a website posting by their embassy to “avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings” after tomorrow’s verdict.
The court is due to rule on 52 defendants, including police officers, on charges relating to a riot after a game in Port Said in February 2012. It’s the second ruling in the case after a January verdict when 21 people were sentenced to death.
The case has become a focal point for anger against the Islamist-led government, which is accused by opponents of failing to reform the security services and judiciary, key demands of the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak. Unrest linked to the rulings has been fueling political and economic instability in Port Said, near the Sinai Peninsula, and other cities.
The court cases stem from the deaths of at least 74 people in 2012 when fans of Port Said’s Al Masry team surged onto the pitch after defeating the Cairo-based Al Ahly team, whose supporters tried to flee only to find the gates bolted.
An anti-government protester was killed and 54 injured late yesterday in Port Said, state-run Ahram Gate reported. Clashes have been continuing over the last week, leaving a total of at least six dead and hundreds injured in the Suez Canal city and neighboring provinces.
Defendants may appeal, and Grand Mufti Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim, head of the country’s top religious institution, must accept or reject the rulings.
The office of the mufti said he needed more time to review more than 1,000 pages of related documentation, according to Ahram Gate.
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