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Egypt jails 15 football fans for attempt to kill club boss

Egyptians of the Ultras, a group of avid politicized soccer fans, block the roads on the 6th of October bridge in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Egyptians of the Ultras, a group of avid politicized soccer fans, block the roads on the 6th of October bridge in Cairo, Egypt Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

CAIRO, February 15 – A court in Egypt on Monday jailed 15 hard core football fans known as “ultras” for trying to kill the chairman of the popular Cairo-based Zamalek club, an official said.

“Ultras”, who were at the forefront of the 2011 uprising against ex-president Hosni Mubarak, had already been banned as a group since May 2015 after another court found them guilty of taking part in violence.

Since February 2012 the authorities have banned all spectators from football matches in stadiums, as whenever some games were opened to the public they were marred by crowd violence, sometimes deadly.

On Monday, a court sentenced 11 Ultras White Knights, diehard Zamalek supporters, to one year for “planning, participating and attempting to murder Mourtada Mansour”, chairman of the club, in August 2014, the official said.

They were also found guilty of possessing weapons and fireworks.

The prosecution said the defendants attacked Mansour at the club’s gate, and during the assault a security guard and a journalist were wounded by birdshot.

The attack came after Mansour banned Ultras White Knights from Zamalek training sessions, the court official and a defence lawyer said.

Four other defendants were also each sentenced to one year for the raid on the club, during which club property was also damaged.

Last May, a court banned all activities by the Ultras after a case filed by Mansour, who had openly opposed Mubarak’s overthrow but backed the army’s ouster in 2013 of his Islamist successor Mohamed Morsi.

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Lawyer Osama al-Gohari, representing 10 defendants in the trial, said 12 of the 15 were in court for sentencing. He also said he planned to appeal.

Monday’s judgment came following a retrial of the 15 after they were earlier sentenced in absentia to five years in prison.

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