UPDATE: Sudan: Lubna Hussein's case postponed to 4th August

As Lubna Ahmad Hussein works for the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the judge today said that she has immunity so the case could be cancelled. Hussein refused, however, and said that she will resign from UNMIS so she will be dealt with as a Sudanese citizen. The decision was reached to postpone the case to another session on Tuesday 4th of August.
"The court gave Lubna the choice either to accept immunity from the UN or to waive that and go on with the trial," her lawyer Nabil Adeeb told AFP.

"I wish to resign from the UN, I wish this court case to continue," Hussein told a packed courtroom before the judge adjourned the case to August 4.

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

She wore the same clothes to court as when she was arrested -- moss-green slacks with a loose floral top and green headscarf, and waved defiantly to crowds as she left the court.

Scores of people crammed into the courthouse to hear the ruling, many of them female supporters -- some of them also wearing trousers out of solidarity.

Some held up placards on the street outside. "A woman is not for flogging," read one in Arabic.

"We are here to support Lubna, because this treatment of women is arbitrary and not correct," said Zuhal Mohammed Elamin, a law professor in Khartoum. "Women should not be humiliated in this manner."

After the end of the court sessions outside the court building, there were some clashes between police forces armed with batons and the journalists who were documenting the event using video cameras. Some reporters, who were briefly detained, had tapes and equipment confiscated.

On Facebook, Hussein posted a letter to her supporters in which she clarified that her aim was to stir up a scandal around her case, in order to expose the insufferable reality faced by Sudanese women due to the country's criminal law. She wrote:(4) "I am very grateful to you all, and want to let you know how happy I am to have your solidarity. I hope that [this case] will shed light on Clause 152 of Sudan's 1991 criminal law.

"This is not a matter of a personal attack against me as a journalist, nor of preserving my personal dignity. Far from it. The issue has taken on a different character, [and I call] on the public to be [my] witness and [to judge for themselves whether this incident] is a disgrace for me or for the public order police. You will decide after hearing the charges and the prosecution witnesses, rather than [only] my side of the story.

"My case is the same as that of 10 young women flogged that day, as well as of dozens, hundreds, and maybe thousands others flogged in the public order courts because of their dress, day after day, month after month, and year after year. They emerge from there dejected, because society does not believe them - indeed, it will never believe that a girl can be flogged only because of the way she dresses.

"The result [of this punishment] is [society's] death sentence against the girl's family; for her parents it means an attack of diabetes, hypertension, or heart failure. [Just think of] the girl's emotional state, and the disgrace that will follow her for the rest of her life - and all because [she wore] trousers. The number [of victims] will keep growing, because society refuses to believe that a girl or woman can be flogged because of what she wears."

WLUML networkers/ AFP