Egypt court annuls controversial Red Sea islands agreement

Tuesday 21-06-2016 02:08 PM

Lawyer Khaled Ali during a previous court session in the islands case. ASWATMASRIYA/ Mohamed el Ra'y

CAIRO, Jun 21 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt’s administrative court annulled on Tuesday the Red Sea islands agreement signed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in April, affirming that the islands fall within Egypt’s borders.

The court also rejected a claim pushed for in earlier court sessions that it lacks jurisdiction over the case.

Prominent human rights defender and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali congratulated Egyptians after the court ruling and expressed his gratitude to everyone who contributed in the case via his Facebook page.

Ali was among the lawyers who filed lawsuits in an attempt to nullify the agreement, which stipulates that the two strategic islands of Tiran and Sanafir fall into Saudi territorial waters.

The agreement had stirred controversy, with critics accusing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of "selling Egypt" to Saudi Arabia in return for aid.

This prompted thousands of Egyptians to take to the streets in rare protests on April 15 and April 25, amid a police campaign of mass arrests of activists opposed to the islands’ transfer.

Tens were fined or handed down prison sentences that ranged from two to five years in a string of court cases related to the protests.

Most of those arrested for protesting the agreement were later acquitted or had their sentences revoked by court. 

A juridical source told Aswat Masriya that the State Litigation Authority would appeal Tuesday’s court ruling after the court’s reasoning becomes available for review.

The State Litigation Authority is the entity that represents the state and has the right to appeal the verdict. It represents the president, prime minister and foreign minister in their capacity as senior government officials.

President 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."

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