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Mon Sep 26 21:05:08 SAST 2016

Egyptian court jails five juveniles over Red Sea island protest

REUTERS | 23 September, 2016 12:31
Egyptian activists shout anti-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and government slogans during a demonstration protesting against the government's decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt. File photo
Image by: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH / REUTERS

An Egyptian court sentenced five juveniles to five years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($11,000) for protesting against a decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, a judicial source and state media said.

More than 200 people were arrested in connection with protests over the islands in April and more than 150 have received jail sentences or fines. Many were later acquitted.

A judicial source told Reuters late on Thursday that the accusations against the juveniles, all under 18, included protesting without permission and disrupting traffic.

"The ruling was made in absentia and they can appeal it," the source said.

The protest, which took place on April 25, was against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's decision to hand over Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

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. A court ruled in June, however, that Egyptian sovereignty over the islands held and could not be given up.

Egyptians are eager for economic revival after years of political upheaval. But the islands issue hurt national pride, prompting thousands of protesters to take to the streets in April chanting "people want the fall of the regime", a slogan from the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. ($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds)

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