Egyptian Appeals Court Cancels 5-Year Jail Terms For 47 Over Island Protests

Journalists protest against restriction on the press and to demand the release of detained journalists, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt May 4. Egypt has been slammed for its treatment of journalists and civil rights activists. REUTERS/Staff

CAIRO, May 25 – An Egyptian appeals court on Tuesday cancelled five-year prison terms handed to 47 people earlier this month for protesting a government decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, judicial sources said.

A lower misdemeanours court had sentenced them to five years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($11,261.39) each on May 14 for demonstrating against President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s decision to hand over Tiran and Sanafir islands.

The appeals court voided the jail sentences but kept the fines. Defence lawyer Nour Fahmy told Reuters the accused would appeal for a second and final time in an effort to get the fines cancelled as well.

The court gave no immediate reasons for its ruling.

More than 200 people were tried in connection with the protests and hundreds of policemen were deployed in central Cairo on April 25 to quell them.

In similar protests on April 15, thousands of people called for “the fall of the regime”, a slogan from the 2011 uprisings which ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

More than 100 people were detained at those protests, security officials said at the time. Most were later freed without charge, judicial sources said.

Saudi and Egyptian officials say the islands belong to the kingdom and were only under Egyptian control because Riyadh had asked Cairo in 1950 to protect them. ($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds)

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