The AP reports from Riyadh about the trial that has up-ended the Vice Squad's untouchable status:
...It might have gone down as just one more excess of zealousness by the forces charged with upholding Islamic modesty, except that Umm Faisal, the senior of three women, did something that is believed unprecedented in Saudi Arabia: She went to court.
On Monday, four years after the incident, the latest chapter of the legal battle being waged by this 50-year-old mother of five reopens before Riyadh's Grievances Court, which handles damages suits for abuses by government and public figures.
...A trial opened Sunday against three religious police officers and a fourth man in the death of Ahmed al-Bulaiwi, the man detained for being alone with a woman. Relatives demanded the death penalty against the defendants.
Taken together, the cases threaten to undermine the authority of the force's employer, the powerful, independent body called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
Since the commission's creation more than six decades ago, there has been no known public legal action taken against its members despite complaints they occasionally overstep their boundaries... But things may be changing.
The National Society for Human Rights, a nongovernment body, has issued a report which, according to the daily Arab News, levels a string of allegations at the religious police: abusive language, unsubstantiated accusations, humiliation of people during interrogation, beatings, unnecessary body searches, forced entry into private homes and coerced confessions...
One small step for Umm Faisal, one small step for Saudi society. Of course, not soon enough...