Egyptian soccer fans rampaged through the heart of Cairo on Saturday, furious about the acquittal of seven police officers, while death sentences against 21 alleged rioters were confirmed in a trail over a stadium melee that left 74 people dead.
The case of the Feb. 1, 2012 stadium riot in the city of Port Said at the northern tip of the Suez Canal has taken on political undertones not just because police faced allegations of negligence in the tragedy but also because the verdicts were announced at a time when Egypt is in the grip of the latest and most serious bout of political turmoil in the two years since Hosni Mubarak's ouster as president.
Saturday's verdicts were also handed down against a backdrop of an unprecedented wave of strikes by the nation's police force over demands for better working conditions and anger over what many believe are attempts by President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood to take control of the police force.
Tensions over the riot have fueled some of the deadliest street violence in months.
At least five people were injured in the protests over the verdict, a Health Ministry official told the MENA state news agency.