Sudan court adjourns "lashes for pants" case

Fellow journalists invited to witness flogging


A Sudanese court on Wednesday adjourned the case of a woman journalist facing 40 lashes for violating public decorum and wearing pants in public, which Sudanese police called "indecent."

The judge deferred the case to Tuesday after Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who works for the left-wing Al-Sahafa newspaper and for the media department of the United Nations Mission in Sudan, waived the immunity given to U.N. workers.

"The court gave Lubna the choice either to accept immunity from the U.N. or to waive that and go on with the trial," her lawyer Nabil Adeeb told AFP.

But Hussein refused to take the easy route and insisted on continuing with the case.

"I wish to resign from the U.N., I wish this court case to continue," Hussein told a packed court room after which the judge adjourned the case to August 4.

Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein was arrested in Khartoum earlier this month after being caught wearing pants at a public event.

"I received a telephone call from the authorities saying I must appear at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Wednesday in front of the judge," Hussein said on Tuesday.

I wish to resign from the U.N., I wish this court case to continue

Lubna al-Hussein, Sudanese journalist

40 lashes

"It is important that people know what is happening," Hussein said in an invitation to journalists to attend her court appearance and flogging.

"They will lash me 40 times, and also fine me 250 Sudanese pounds ($12)."

Hussein said she was at a restaurant on July 3 when police came in and ordered 13 women wearing pants to follow them to the police station.

Ten of the women were summoned to a police station two days later and were lashed 10 times each, according to Hussein, who wears a hijab (Islamic headscarf).

The women whipped earlier this month included some from animist and Christian south Sudan where the Muslim north's Sharia or Islamic law does not apply.

Police have also cracked down on another woman journalist, Amal Habbani, after she wrote an article condemning Hussein's treatment.

Habbani wrote an article for Ajrass al-Horreya newspaper following the arrests entitled "Lubna, a case of subduing a woman's body."

"I am waiting for a decision," Habbani said after she was charged with defaming police, a charge which can carry a fine of up to several hundred thousand dollars.

The Egyptian-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said the charge against Habbani stemmed from her claim that Hussein's arrest was "not about fashion but a political tactic to intimidate and terrorize opponents."