CAIRO: Members of parliament Monday slammed the preliminary report issued by the fact-finding committee probing the Feb. 1 Port Said football massacre that left 71 dead, describing it as "vague" and "insufficient."
Hussein Ibrahim, head of the Freedom and Justice Party’s (FJP) parliamentary bloc, demanded that the Homeland Security chief in Port Said and General Intelligence officials be summoned to the People’s Assembly (PA) to present their official reports on the clashes.
"We expect the committee to find out who is the third party [that ignited the clashes]," he said, adding that he knew for a fact that the government was involved.
Ibrahim referred to the last paragraph in Article 220 of the PA bylaws stipulating that all institutions must provide the necessary help to the fact-finding committee in its investigations by offering information and official reports, which the interior ministry refused to do.
MP Ashraf Thabet, head of the fact-finding committee, said that they had requested that the interior ministry present the findings of its criminal investigation but that the ministry said that the investigations were still in progress.
Ibrahim demanded that the committee interrogate the state institutions regarding the clashes.
He also demanded the official records of Tora prison, where many of the icons of the former regime are detained pending trial, in order to pinpoint who visited them before the clashes.
"There’s a lot of talk that the ‘Tora government’ was responsible for these clashes, and the head of Homeland Security and Egyptian Intelligence have that kind of information," Ibrahim said.
Mohamed El-Soghayar, MP with Al-Nour Party, voiced Ibrahim’s concerns, accusing the wives of the defendants affiliated with the former regime of orchestrating the clashes to avenge their husbands.
"The third party lies in Tora prison," he said.
MP Wahid Abdel Meguid slammed the preliminary report saying it brought nothing new to the investigation, save for two points: the absence of military troops to secure the game and the two plans put forth by the interior ministry.
He said that the fact that there were two plans to secure the stadium was proof that security forces knew that there were going to be clashes, or at least, expected it.
The committee found that the two plans to secure the stadium were identical but for an increase of 25 officers to reinforce each security cordon.
Wahid Tarek Sabbaq, member of Al-Wafd Party’s parliamentary bloc, also slammed the report saying it reminded him of reports issued by the now disbanded National Democratic Party that vague reports which don’t address the main issues.
Sabbaq too questioned the absence of military forces on Feb. 1.
Thabet responded that the military did not receive any written request from security officials in Port Said to help secure the match, adding that military forces were only responsible for securing the Ahly football players while they were in their hotel and on the road from Cairo to Port Said and back.
Other MPs were critical of the report for not holding an official body “politically responsible.”
MP Ziad El-Eleimy condemned the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), holding the generals responsible for igniting the clashes and describing them as "criminals."
He added that the military ruler organized these crimes in response to mass protests calling on SCAF to hand over power immediately to a civilian authority.
El-Eleimy and several MPs defended the members of Ultras fan groups and condemned the committee for describing them as "reckless," or labeling them as "thugs."
"The Ultras youth participated in the Egyptian revolution and protected the revolutionaries inside Tahrir Square," El-Eleimy said.
However, Thabet denied that the committee described the Ultras as thugs, but only referred to some of their actions which compromise public safety.
He added that one of these practices was forcing fans of the competing team to take off their T-shirts and hand over their banners.
"This explains why some of the bodies were topless when they arrived at the morgue" he added.
The preliminary report placed the political responsibility for the events on security forces, the Egyptian Football Federation, Al Masry Club and the Port Said Stadium Authority, without mentioning SCAF or the interior ministry.
FJP MP Mohamed Gad demanded that the National Council for Sports, which is responsible for the Egyptian Football Federation, be included among those politically responsible for the clashes.
He also criticized the committee’s condemnation of sports media without specifying which channels or anchors helped incite the violence, to hold them accountable.
MP Mohamed El-Sawy, head of the culture and media committee, said that his committee is in the process of drafting guidelines for the media.
"We don’t want to restrict freedoms but we want to hold everyone who works in the media responsible for what they do," he said.