Video: Blair friend accused of paying thugs to attack fans
Published 06/02/2012 | 05:00
A billionaire businessman who associated with Tony Blair has been accused of orchestrating the football riot in Egypt that killed 74 people.
Gamal Omar, owner of the hotel and villa complex in Sharm el-Sheikh where Mr Blair holidayed with his family, was forced to issue a denial of involvement after the leaking of a filmed interview with one of the suspects, in which he claimed Mr Omar had paid thugs to attack visiting fans.
Mr Omar, a close associate of the former president, Hosni Mubarak, was said to have joined forces with a "regime crony" in a plot to sow chaos.
There is no suggestion that Mr Blair is still in close contact with Mr Omar, who has been in the United States since last year's revolution.
But the allegation draws attention to Mr Blair's contacts with the regime of Mr Mubarak, whom he defended at the time of the uprising.
The deaths on Wednesday followed a pitch invasion after the match between Al-Masry, a team in Port Said, and the Cairo-based Al-Ahly, which Al-Masry won 3-1.
Fans on both sides claimed the violence was organised by paid thugs, and that the police failed to step in.
A video leaked to the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed party, shows a man claiming that Gamal Omar and Al-Husseini Abu Ammar, another businessman with ties to the Mubarak family, paid 600 thugs to attend the game. In a statement from Florida, Mr Omar said the claims were "malicious falsehoods". (© Daily Telegraph, London)