The 101 Egyptian fishermen detained in Sudan will stand trial on Thursday on new charges, after a glimpse of hope emerged last week for their release.
After being acquitted of charges and given a prosecution release order last Thursday, the fishermen now find themselves charged with taking photos of military facilities, according to Taha El-Sheridy, spokesperson for the fishermen’s independent association.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met Sunday with family representatives of the detained fishermen. After attending the meeting, El-Sheridy told Daily News Egypt that the ministry wonders why Sudan back-tracked on its decision to release the fishermen, as there are no valid reasons for the move.
The Foreign Ministry said Sunday that efforts are ongoing to aid the return of the fishermen. El-Sheridy said that ministry officials said during the meeting that Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb made contact with the Sudanese vice president Bakri Hassan Saleh to discuss the issue. Mehleb has also instructed the Ministers of Agriculture and Irrigation, who are currently in Sudan, to discuss bilateral cooperation and to follow-up on the issue.
The 101 fishermen, who hail from Al-Matariya in the Daqahleya governorate, were detained by Sudanese authorities in April. They were on board three fishing boats that were heading to Eritrea, according to the independent fishermen’s association in Al-Matariya.
The fishermen were arrested on the grounds of infiltrating Sudanese territorial waters, which the fishermen claim did not happen.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced last Thursday that “the Sudanese authorities have released 100 fishermen who were detained previously on charges of entering Sudanese territorial waters”.
However, late on Thursday, the fishermen were prevented from leaving Sudan, and were re-detained.
According to the fishermen’s association, Sudanese security authorities appealed the prosecution’s decision to release the fishermen, which was accepted on the same day.
Relatives of the detained held a press conference in June to demand that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi intervene in the fishermen’s release.
One of the relatives told Daily News Egypt during the conference: “The word we got from lawyers representing them [fishermen] in Sudan is that detaining the fishermen is related to a case where over 100 Sudanese where arrested in Egypt over smuggling through borders.”
The claim was supported by another relative who is also a fisherman and said: “They [Sudanese authorities] are looking for an eye for eye treatment.”