Egypt court sets ruling in Red Sea islands deal for 21 June

Ahram Online , Tuesday 14 Jun 2016

Rights lawyer Khaled Ali (Reuters)
Rights lawyer Khaled Ali (Reuters)

An Egyptian administrative court has set 21 June as a date to issue its ruling in the case brought by rights lawyer Khaled Ali against the government's recent decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Ali brought a lawsuit against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Al for waiving Egyptian "sovereignty rights" over the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir after Cairo and Riyadh signed a maritime re-demarcation deal in early April.

A ruling will not be final and could still be appealed before Egypt's High Administrative Court .

The rights lawyer had earlier asked the court to subpoena documents on the islands' origin from the Egyptian foreign and defence ministries and to put the hand-over of the islands on hold until the matter is legally settled.

Egypt’s decision to transfer the two strategic islands at the southern the Gulf of Aqaba into Saudi hands has sparked widespread public outcry, with some critics accusing the government of "selling the islands."

Egypt insists the islands belonged to Saudi Arabia and the government has merely administered them while on lease from Saudi Arabi since the 1950s.

Evidence presented by Ali to the court during a recent hearing included a 1917 book, a 1914 map and a 1940 Cambridge University Atlas all referring to the two islands as Egyptian.

Thousands demonstrated in April to oppose the deal and dozens of youths were arrested and are facing trial for breaking the protest law and spreading false rumours.  

Those arrested include renowned human rights lawyer Malek Adly, who was collecting signatures supporting the filing of the lawsuit. Adly is still in jail.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Cairo court acquitted 51 people charged over taking part in the islands demonstrations.

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