Top Court in Egypt Rejects Transfer Of Islands To Saudi Arabia

Monday, 16 January, 2017 - 17:00

Egypt’s High Administrative Court upheld on Monday a June decision affirming Egyptian sovereignty over the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, rejecting a government appeal against the June decision.

The verdict is final and cannot be appealed. The court has rejected a number of prior appeals in the case, in which the government sought court approval for an April 2016 maritime demarcation agreement that would transfer the two islands to Saudi Arabian territory.

Intensive security measures were in place early Monday morning around the State Council, where the session was held, blocking surrounding roads and allowing only lawyers and journalists with prior approval to access to the proceedings.

The judge in the case, Ahmed El-Shazly, said in his preamble that “Egypt’s sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir is absolute; the government did not present a document that changes this fact.”

El-Shazly said that the court has produced a 59-page document explaining its reasons for the verdict.

The judge said that the "Egyptian army has never been an occupation force," pointing to the historic role of the islands in the nation's strategic defence.

After the ruling was announced, a series of chants broke inside the court session, with opponents of the deal singing the Egyptian national anthem.

A judicial source told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that the verdict would annul the state’s representative inking of the maritime demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia.