A Cairo misdemeanor court acquitted on Tuesday 51 defendants charged with participating in illegal protests on April 25 against Egypt’s controversial decision to cede control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
The acquitted protestors are among nearly 300 who were arrested for participating in the scattered protests against the Saudi-Egyptian deal without prior approval from the Ministry of Interior.
On Saturday, a Giza court sentenced seven defendants to eight years in prison and fined them EGP 500 each for protesting against the maritime border demarcation agreement.
The court sentenced the defendants, who were arrested on April 27, to three years in jail on charges of planning a “terrorist crime,” and to five years on charges of protesting, spreading rumors, and possessing leaflets and official documents on their electronic devices.
Per Egypt’s controversial protest law, which was signed in by interim president Adly Mansour in 2013, any gathering of more than 10 people without prior government approval is prohibited and seven different permissions are required to hold a street demonstration. Violators face up to five years in prison and a fine of EGP 100,000.
The demarcation agreement had stirred nationwide controversy as the Egyptian cabinet announced that the signing of the agreement came after six years of negotiations between the two countries, causing many to voice their concern that negotiations of such importance were carried out without public knowledge.
Some also decried the agreement as an indication that Egypt had “sold” its land in exchange for Saudi Arabian aid, particularly as the agreement was announced shortly after Saudi Arabia’s King Salman pledged USD 21.5 billion in loans and investments.