Egypt puts 237 civilians on trial for protests over Red Islands controversy

Published May 2nd, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
Egyptian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in central Cairo against a controversial deal to hand over two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, April 15, 2016. (AFP/File)
Egyptian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in central Cairo against a controversial deal to hand over two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, April 15, 2016. (AFP/File)

The people, charged with demonstrating without permits, appeared before four courts in the capital, Cairo, and the city of Giza on Saturday.

The court sessions were later adjourned. If convicted, the defendants face jail terms of up to three years.

On April 15, thousands of Egyptian protesters hit the streets despite a ban on all demonstrations and a stern warning from the security officials of a firm response to any anti-government gatherings. Police used tear gas and birdshot to disperse the crowd.

The protests, which continued later in April, came after the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced on April 9 that it was transferring the sovereignty of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

Egypt is reportedly receiving USD 20 billion in aid from Saudi Arabia in return for the move.

The Tiran Island is located at the entrance of the Straits of Tiran, which separate the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aqaba. Its strategic significance lies in the fact that it is an important sea passage to the major ports of Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The ownership of the islands was handed to Egyptian control in 1982, when Tel Aviv and Cairo signed the so-called Camp David peace accords.

Egypt informed the Israeli regime in advance of its intention to transfer the sovereignty over the two islands to Saudi Arabia, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has made it clear that Riyadh "will honor all of Egypt's legal and international commitments in regard to the two islands," in an apparent signal to Israel.


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