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8 months in Zambian prison on gay charges; no bail

Jailed in Zambia for eight months on homosexuality charges, defendants James Mwape and Philip Mubiana await the end of their ongoing trial.
Jailed in Zambia for eight months on homosexuality charges, defendants James Mwape and Philip Mubiana await the end of their ongoing trial.

The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case tomorrow (Jan. 24) against two young Zambian men facing homosexuality charges.

Philip Mubiana and James Mwape  have been imprisoned for eight months without bail since they were arrested in early May, when family members in rural Kapiri Mposhi reported them to police.

If convicted, the defendants would face prison sentences of 15 years to life.

Repeated requests for their release on bail have been delayed without action.

Their supporters say that the prosecution’s final medical witness is due to testify tomorrow, after which the prosecution is expected to close its case.

View of the Mpima remand prison, where the defendants are being held.
Mpima maximum security prison, where Philip Mubiana and James Mwape have been held.

Mubiana and Mwape are victims not only of continuing legal delays but also of  the country’s public campaign against homosexuals. They were arrested during the country’s anti-gay campaign that started in early April, when Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba urged the Zambian public to report homosexuals.

“It is blatantly clear that the decisions being made by the Zambian judicial system in this case are being influenced by external factors,” said LGBT rights activists who have been following the case.

In the trial, the defense has raised objections about testimony by a medical practitioner who described his anal examinations of the defendants.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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