Activists protest Sisi's transfer of the Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia in front of the Journalists' Syndicate on April 15th, 2016. (ASWAT MASRIYA/ Mohamed al-Raai)
CAIRO, Sept 23(Aswat Masriya) - Egypt sentenced five minors to five years in prison and a fine of EGP100,000 each, on accusations of illegally protesting against the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation agreement.
The defendants, who took to the streets against the agreement on Apr. 25, are facing charges of illegal protesting, joining a “terrorist group” and disturbing public order and security.
Citing a judicial source, Reuters reported that the ruling was made in absentia and the defendants can appeal it.
The Egyptian-Saudi accord, which was signed at a time when Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz was on his first official visit to Cairo in April, stipulates that two strategic islands, Tiran and Sanafir, fall within Saudi territorial waters.
Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in rare protests against the agreement on April 15 and April 25, amid a police campaign of mass arrests of activists opposed to the islands’ transfer.
The agreement has stirred controversy with critics accusing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of "selling Egypt" to Saudi Arabia in return for aid.
In June, the administrative court annulled the agreement and affirmed that the two islands fall within Egypt's borders.
The government maintains that both islands belong to Saudi Arabia.
The State Lawsuits authority, the body representing the government in legal cases, challenged the verdict before the Supreme and Administrative Court and the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).
Located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, the two islands are strategically significant as they both control maritime activity in the Gulf.