Trousers woman faces 40 lashes

KHARTOUM - A Sudanese woman facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public made her first appearance in a court packed with supporters on Wednesday.

KHARTOUM - A Sudanese woman facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public made her first appearance in a court packed with supporters on Wednesday.

Her lawyer described her appearance as a test case for Sudan's decency laws.

There were chaotic scenes as Lubna Hussein, a former journalist who works for the UN, attended the hearing wearing the same green slacks that got her arrested for immodest dress.

Indecency cases are not uncommon in Sudan. But Hussein has attracted attention by publicising her case, inviting journalists to hearings and using it to campaign against dress codes.

The case was adjourned as lawyers discussed whether her status as a UN employee gave her legal immunity.

After the hearing, defence lawyer Nabil Adib Abdalla said Hussein had agreed to resign from the UN in time for the next session on August 4 to make sure the case continued.

"First of all she wants to show she is totally innocent, and using her immunity will not prove that," said Abdalla.

"Second she wants to fight the law. The law is too wide. It needs to be reformed ... This is turning into a test case. Human rights groups will be watching this closely."

He said Hussein was ready to face the maximum penalty for the criminal offence of wearing indecent dress in public, which was 40 lashes and an unlimited fine. - Reuters

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