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Scores charged over Egypt soccer violence

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Egypt's prosecutor general has referred 75 people to criminal court in connection with football riots last month that left scores dead.

The defendants include nine members of the police including Major General Issam Samak, who was Port Said's chief of security at the time of the riot, the prosecutor's office said in a statement on Thursday.

At least 74 people were killed in the Feburary 1 riot, the world's worst football-related disaster in 15 years.

The riot began minutes after the final whistle in a league game between Cairo club al-Ahly and al-Masry of Port Said.

Al-Masry fans invaded the pitch after their team beat the visitors 3-1, throwing stones, bottles and fireworks at Al-Ahly supporters, causing chaos and panic as players and fans fled in all directions.

Witnesses said the riot lasted 30 minutes and many witnesses claimed that policemen at the venue did nothing to stop the bloodshed.

'Planned in advance'

The stadium deaths led to days of violent protests in Cairo, in which another 16 people were killed.

A statement by the Egyptian general prosecutor's office said the charges were based on video footage of the riot and the confessions of suspects.

It said the killing of the protesters was planned in advance and that the culprits prepared for the massacre with knifes, stones and explosives.

The Port Said riot led to the cancellation of the football league and caused days of clashes in Cairo between police and protesters, who accused the interior ministry, which is in charge of police, of doing nothing to protect al-Ahly fans.

The Egyptian football federation has yet to punish al-Masry for the riot.

It is widely expected to relegate the team to a lower league and ban any official games from being played on its grounds.

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