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Page last updated at 17:11 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 18:11 UK

Sudanese 'trousers woman' jailed

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Lubna Hussein outside the court with supporters chanting 'freedom'

A Sudanese woman has been jailed for a month after refusing to pay a fine for "dressing indecently" by wearing trousers, her lawyers say.

Lubna Ahmed Hussein did not want to "give the verdict any legitimacy" by paying the fine of about $200 (£122), her lawyer, Nabil Adib, told the BBC.

Ms Hussein, a journalist in her 30s, could have been given up to 40 lashes.

Before the verdict, she had said she wanted her trial to become a test case for women's rights, correspondents say.

Ms Hussein had resigned from her job at the UN, which would have given her immunity.

"She thinks she was unfairly tried and convicted and was not given a proper chance to put her defence case," Mr Adib said.

He said Ms Hussein would appeal to both the Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.

Kamal Omar, another of Ms Hussein's lawyers, told the AFP news agency his client had been taken to the women's prison in Omdurman.

The BBC's James Copnall, at the court in Khartoum, says that Ms Hussein had previously said she was determined not to pay the fine but her lawyers had been trying to convince her to do so.

Truncheons

The announcement of the fine for Ms Hussein came shortly after the trial resumed on Monday.

Lubna Hussein leaves court in Khartoum after the final hearing, 7 Sept
Ms Hussein wore loose trousers to the hearing in Khartoum

The journalist - who appeared in the same loose green trousers, top and shawl she was wearing when arrested - was found guilty of wearing "indecent clothing" under article 152 of Sudanese criminal law.

Earlier, at least 40 protesters were held by police outside the courthouse in the Sudanese capital. Some of them were women reportedly wearing trousers in support for Ms Hussein.

All the protesters were later released on bail.

Our correspondent saw one woman being hit eight or nine times by police with truncheons.

Ms Hussein's supporters were heckled by Islamists, who tore up some of the women's homemade signs, says our correspondent.

But the presence of diplomats and human rights activists inside the court, and the protests outside, show that the trial has become a test case for women's rights in Sudan, he adds.

Among Ms Hussein's supporters were members of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) from southern Sudan.

The chairman of the SPLM's parliamentary group, Yasser Arman, told the BBC the prosecutions were adding to "the violations of the constitution of the peace agreement and of women's rights - Muslims and Christians".

"We reject it, we denounce it. The law itself it is unconstitutional, it is contradicting the constitution," he said.

'Nothing wrong'

Ms Hussein was arrested in July together with 12 other women who were wearing trousers.

Several of the women pleaded guilty and were given 10 lashes immediately, Ms Hussein said at the time.

She said several of those punished were from the mainly Christian and animist south, even though non-Muslims are not supposed to be subject to Islamic law.

During the trial, Ms Hussein argued that she had done nothing wrong under Sudan's indecency law.

On Friday, the London-based human rights group Amnesty International called on Khartoum to withdraw the charges against Ms Hussein and repeal the law used to justify flogging as a penalty for "indecent" dress.

In a column published in the UK's Guardian newspaper on Friday, Ms Hussein wrote: "When I think of my trial, I pray that my daughters will never live in fear of these police... We will only be secure once the police protect us and these laws are repealed."



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