CAIRO, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's Port Said Criminal Court sentenced Saturday five people to life imprisonment for their role in the Port Said soccer riots which killed over 70 in February 2012.
The court, presided by Soubhy Abdel Maguid and held in Cairo police academy, also confirmed the death sentences it issued on Jan. 26 for another 21 defendants.
The court has asked for the opinion of the mufti -- the government's interpreter of Islamic law -- as usual in death sentence cases. The mufti should give his opinion in maximum 10 days, but the Islamic official has demanded more time to study the case.
The court acquitted 28 out of the total 73 people accused in the case, while sentencing 10 defendants, including security chief of Port Said security headquarters Essam Samak, to 15 years in jail, six people to 10 years of imprisonment, and the others to five years.
A Cairo-based soccer fans group called Utras Ahlawy gathered Saturday outside Ahly stadium in Cairo after the court's ruling, chanting to revenge for those killed in the riots, known in Egypt as "the Port Said massacre".
Seventy-three defendants, including nine top security officials, were arrested after deadly riots erupted at Port Said Stadium during a match between Port Said's al-Masry and Cairo's al-Ahly soccer teams.
After the court issued in January an initial verdict sentencing 21 defendants to death, violent clashes erupted in Port Said and left 40 killed and hundreds injured. Saturday's sentences are likely to further inflame the seaside governorate.
Egyptian interior ministry decided Friday to hand over its police headquarters in Port Said to the military, which has been deployed there since late January, to avoid further confrontations with protesters after days of unrest.