An Egyptian court sentenced 21 people to death today on charges related to one of the world's deadliest incidents of soccer violence. The verdict touched off an attempted jailbreak and a riot that killed 27 in the Mediterranean port city that is home to most of the defendants. Immediately after the verdict, two police were shot dead outside Port Said's main prison when angry relatives tried to storm the facility to free the defendants. Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds, security officials said. Hundreds were wounded.
Another 52 defendants will be sentenced in March, including nine security officials. Die-hard soccer fans from both teams hold the police at least partially responsible for last year's Port Said deaths—74 people were killed—and criticize Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi for doing little to reform the force. The violence began after Port Said's home team, called al-Masry, won the match. Fans stormed the field when the game ended, attacking Cairo's al-Ahly fans.