Protest at the Lawyers Syndicate on Apr. 14, 2016 against the transfer of the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia
CAIRO, May 17 (Aswat Masriya)- Egypt's administrative court postponed on Tuesday a trial over a controversial demarcation agreement requiring the country to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
The court adjourned the trial until June 7 to look into a number of lawsuits filed against the agreement, which was signed by the government in April but has yet to be ratified by the parliament.
The court required the state to present a copy of the agreement.
The agreement, which stipulates that the two strategic islands of Tiran and Sanafir fall into Saudi territorial waters, stirred controversy, with critics accusing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of "selling Egypt" to Saudi Arabia in return for aid.
Under the slogan of "Friday of the Land," thousands of took to the streets on April 15 to protest against the agreement. Amid a police campaign of mass arrests of activists opposed to the agreement, limited protests were staged on April 25 against "the sale of Egypt's land."
Sisi defended the agreement in a televised speech in April, saying that "Egypt does not sell its land to anyone and it does not take anyone's land."
The cabinet also argued in a statement that the islands are Saudi, adding that Saudi Arabia requested Egypt to protect them in 1950 and they had been under Egypt's control since.
During today's trial session, lawyer Khaled Ali, a prominent human rights defender and former presidential candidate, challenged Sisi's decision to sign the agreement, saying that the president's powers "do not allow the relinquishing of the state's territory."
He presented to the court an atlas that he said was prepared by the Egyptian military in 2007 to confirm that Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian and fall under Egyptian sovereignty.
Ali also demanded that lawyer Malek Adly, who is currently in custody since May 6, be brought to court to present his arguments against the agreement.
Adly, who was among the lawyers who filed lawsuits against the agreement, is detained on charges of inciting protests on Apr. 25 protests.
The prosecution’s investigation implicated Adly in “working to overthrow the regime, belonging to one of the associations or organisations that seek to disrupt the provisions of the constitution, inciting protests, broadcasting false news, and possession of publications inciting against the state.”