Riot police surrounded the building where a Sudanese court began proceedings Thursday in the case of a British teacher charged with inciting religious hatred - a crime punishable by up to 40 lashes - over letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad.
Gillian Gibbons, in a dark jacket and blue skirt, was not handcuffed but looked tired as she walked into the courtroom in Khartoum, according to reporters inside before media were ordered out of the chamber. Outside, there was confusion as authorities barred British diplomats and Gibbons's employer from entering the building.
Sudan's prosecutor-general Salah Eddin Abu Zaid said Gibbons, who could also face six months in jail and a fine if convicted, would receive a "swift and fair trial."
The case sparked tensions between Sudan and Britian, the country's former colonial ruler. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was meeting Thursday with Sudan's ambassor to inquire about the case.