Remaining defendants in April 15 protests released pending trial

Qasr al-Nil Criminal Court ordered the release of 22 defendants arrested during demonstrations on April 15 protesting the sovereign transfer of two islands off the coast of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to Saudi Arabia.

The defendants have not been formally acquitted, however, and were referred to trial, the first session of which is scheduled for June 1. The defendants face a number of charges, including protesting without authorization, illegal assembly, destabilizing public security,  and obstructing traffic and public transport.

Police forces arrested and detained 25 individuals around the area of downtown Cairo during the demonstrations, which are commonly referred to as the “Friday of the Land” protests.

Lawyer Sameh Samir, of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), explained that three of the 25 people detained were minors, who were ordered to be released on Tuesday after spending 18 days in detention. The three minors will still face hearings before the juvenile justice system.

Samir added that he expects that the 25 defendants will eventually be acquitted.

However, dozens of others who were arrested during protests on April 25 may still be facing harsh sentences.

According to figures published by the Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters, police forces arrested around 1,277 people across the country between April 15 and April 27. Most of these individuals have since been released, however.

According to a ECESR report, 64 individuals arrested in Cairo on April 25 have been referred to trial, including 13 minors.

Egypt’s government has faced criticism and protests over its agreement to redraw the maritime borders between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and cede two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia.

This agreement came during a visit by a Saudi delegation to Cairo in early April  — presided over by King Salman — which pledged aid packages to Egypt worth an estimated $US21.5 billion.

In his address after the transfer, Sisi called on Egyptians not to discuss the issue of the two islands anymore, as Egypt’s parliament is due to review the new maritime border agreement. Egypt’s Administrative Court is also scheduled to review the legal aspects of the agreement on May 17.

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