Court acquits 51 over involvement in Red Sea islands protests

Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanors Court acquitted on Tuesday 51 people who participated in downtown Cairo protests on April 25 against the handover of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.
The defendants, who were arrested in connection with the protests, were previously sentenced by a lower court to two years in prison.
Another 13 defendants, who were identified as minors, have been referred to the Child Court.
The 51 who have been released were convicted of various charges, including: organizing and participating in protests without a permit from authorities; assembling; rioting; inciting againt state institutions; suspending traffic; and circulating claims that threatened public peace and security.
On April 8, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement clarifying the demarcation of maritime borders between the two nations, just one of several deals signed during the visit to Egypt of Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz.
Mass protests took place on Friday April 25 in response to calls from various political groups and parties, seeking to increase pressure on the government over the deal to transfer the two Red Sea islands to Saudi control, a move the Egyptian goverment described as returning them to their former owners.
Among the political groups calling for demonstrations were the April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Democratic Current Coalition — which includes six political parties — and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a statement in April, the Egyptian Cabinet said that the agreement places the islands of Tiran and Sanafir within Saudi territorial waters, although the agreement will need to be reviewed by parliament before it is ratified.
The two islands are of great strategic importance, being located at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba.
Last week, judges from the State Council Administrative Court postponed hearings in a case challenging the agreement with Saudi Arabia, ruling that evidence in the case must be assessed by a tripartie committee of experts in international law, geography and history.

The lawsuit was filed by lawyer Khaled Ali and others challenging the demarcation agreement on the grounds that the Egyptian government had acted illegally in transfering the islands to Saudi control.

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