Egyptian court reduces jail terms for 9 Damietta protesters in Red Sea islands case

Ahram Online , Sunday 14 May 2017

The nine men were convicted of illegally protesting a government decision to transfer the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia

A Damietta court has reduced the prison sentences of nine men convicted in the "Red Sea islands" case, reducing their sentences from one year to three months, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reports.

In its ruling on Saturday, the court upheld an EGP 20,000 fine for each of the nine men.

They were found guilty on charges relating to illegal protests in Damietta against the April 2016 Egyptian-Saudi border demarction deal which placed the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir under Saudi sovereignty.

The decision sparked fierce public debate within Egypt, as well as street protests. Many protesters faced trials for illegal protests but most have been released since then.

A group of Egyptian lawyers filed a legal challenge against the agreement. Court battles have continued since that time, with rulings and counter-rulings in various courts.

In January this year, the High Administrative Court (HAC) issued a fimal ruling voiding the deal, reasoming that the two islands are Egyptian. However, in April, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruled that the HAC had no jurisdiction in the matter, rendering the HAC's January ruling void. 

An administrative court has set 6 June as a date to rule on the issue of jurisdiction.

In December 2016, the cabinet approved the deal and referred it to Parliament. 

Parliament has yet to discuss or vote on the agreement.

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