The Supreme Administrative Court postponed Monday’s appeal session in the Red Sea islands case to 19 December. The government is appealing the State Council’s decision to annul the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation deal, which would have seen the sovereignty of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir transferred to Saudi Arabia.
The session was postponed in order to comment on a report submitted by the State Lawsuits Authority and to allow the state to submit court session reports requested by lawyer Khaled Ali, one of the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit against the Red Sea islands agreement, next session.
During Monday’s court session, Ali said that ownership of the islands could be determined by analysing 13 specific documents. “If the islands belong to Saudi they can have it, and if it belongs to us we can have it,” Ali said.
He added that these documents include Egyptian maps from 1906, 1912, 1913, and 1922, which he plans to submit in the next court session. Other documents include a letter from the foreign ministry to the finance ministry dated December 1949 requesting clarification on the islands’ sovereignty and its reply in 1950, as well as a letter from the defence ministry to the foreign ministry in 1950 and its subsequent reply.
Other documents include a series of letters from 1950, such as a letter from King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud to Egypt, communiqués between the Saudi consul in Egypt and the Saudi king, and Egyptian communiqués to American and British ambassadors.
Ali said that he has repeatedly requested the State Commissioner’s Authority submit these documents, adding that his requests have been ignored. He also said that he has tried to request these documents directly from different government institutions, but they were not cooperative.
On 8 April the government concluded the demarcation deal with Saudi Arabia, during an official visit by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. It sparked widespread discontent among both pro- and anti-government factions in the country, leading to a number of protests and arrests.
Ali and other lawyers including prominent human rights’ defender Malek Adly brought the case to the State Council, and on 21 July the council annulled the agreement. The State Lawsuits Authority immediately appealed the decision.
The government says that the Islands of Tiran and Sanafir were given to Egypt by Saudi Arabia for temporary administration, and would be returned to them upon their request. Ali said he has yet to see any document proving this.
Additional reporting Nada Amr