Egypt court adjourns verdict on govt appeal against island deal annulment

Ahram Online , Saturday 8 Oct 2016

The islands of Tiran (forefront) and Sanafir (further back) (Photo: AFP)

Egypt's High Administrative Court adjourned on Saturday to 22 October its decision on a government appeal against a verdict overruling a controversial deal to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

The maritime demarcation accord, which has sparked public outrage, was announced by the government in April during a visit to Cairo by Saudi King Salman.

In June, an administrative court ruling annulled the signing of the deal and said that the Islands of Tiran and Sanafir remain Egyptian. The government has appealed the ruling.

The government lawyer told the court Saturday that the deal was only preliminary, describing it as a sovereign decision and arguing that only parliament has jurisdiction over the matter.

Khaled Ali, the rights lawyer who filed the June lawsuit to annul the maritime deal, presented the court in today's hearing with what he described as evidence which proves the two islands are Egyptian, including an army-published book highlighting the strategic importance of the islands to Egypt.

Ali also presented letters between Saudi Arabia and Egypt discussing the dispute over the ownership of the islands, which he says prove the kingdom's original right to them was never established.

Also on Saturday, the Supreme Constitutional Court set 13 November to rule on another appeal brought by Egypt's State Lawsuits Authority – the body that represents the government in legal cases, to suspend the annulment of the island deal and challenge the jurisdiction of the administrative court that issued it.

Egypt’s decision to transfer the islands – which lie between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba – into Saudi hands sparked widespread public outcry in Egypt.

Dozens of people have been arrested and put on trial for protesting the deal, though most have since been released.

Late in September, the Court of Urgent Matters suspended the annulment ruling, a decision criticised by legal experts who say the lower court, under the Egyptian constitution, has no right to rule on matters related to public administration.

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