A Zambian judge yesterday refused to grant bail to two young Zambian men who have been imprisoned for six months without a conviction on charges of homosexual activity.
Activists monitoring the legal proceedings against Philip Mubiana and James Mwape of rural Kapiri Mposhi reported that Kabwe High Court Judge Sikazwe rejected an appeal for immediate bail. Sikazwe said he will await a decision by the magistrate presiding over the men’s trial about objections raised by the defense. That decision is currently scheduled for Dec. 5, but it could be delayed.
“It is blatantly clear that the decisions being made by the Zambian judicial system in this case are being influenced by external factors,” activists commented.
Mubiana and Mwape are victims of continuing legal delays and the country’s public campaign against homosexuals. Their plight has not been alleviated by the Zambian First Lady’s recent appeal for a forthright discussion of homosexuality in Zambia.
Activists expressed fears that the trial will be unfair. If convicted, the defendants would face prison sentences of 15 years to life.
In the trial, the defense has raised objections about testimony by a medical practitioner who described his anal examinations of the defendants. Sikazwe said he would await a ruling on those objections by the trial’s presiding magistrate, John Mbuzi, before making a ruling on the bail appeal. That appeal went to the High Court after a lower court refused bail for the two men.
They have been detained since early May.
Immediately after the high court hearing, the defendants were returned to cells in the crowded Kapiri jail. They had been scheduled to go back to the Mpima maximum-security prison, but the transport vehicle broke down, activists said.
Before the Nov. 8 bail hearing got under way, the defense learned of a prosecution motion made in August but never disclosed to the defense.
“The defense was ambushed when they discovered that an opposing submission from the Prosecution was filed before the court,” observers said.
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- Amnesty Int’l demands freedom for Zambian gay couple (May 8, 2013)
- Jailed gay pair in Zambia abused; at risk of rape, disease (May 9, 2013)
- Gay in Zambia: 6th week in jail for 2 awaiting trial (76crimes.com, June 5, 2013)
- Zambian pair’s sentence could be 14 years for gay sex (76crimes.com, June 10, 2013)
- Zambia: Sister and police testify against gay pair (76crimes.com, June 11, 2013)
- On the scene in Zambian courtroom in anti-gay case (76crimes.com, June 11, 2013)
- Zambia: Setback for prosecution in gay trial (76crimes.com, June 24, 2013)
- 4th month in jail for gay couple facing Zambia trial delays (76crimes.com, July 18, 2013)
- 5 months in Zambian jail as gay trial falters; no eyewitnesses (76crimes.com, Aug. 30, 2013)
- Amnesty to Zambia: Release 2 men facing gay sex charges (76crimes.com, Sept. 11, 2013)
- Justice delayed, justice denied for 2 in Zambian gay trial (76crimes.com, Sept. 17, 2013)
- No bail, no trial; 5+ months in Zambian prison on gay charges (76crimes.com, Oct. 19, 2013)
- ‘Our lives are in danger’ – new threats to Zambian activists (76crimes.com, Oct. 24, 2013)
- In Zambia, ‘trial by ambush’ in anti-gay case (76crimes.com, Oct. 28, 2013)
- Amid repression, Zambian First Lady opposes anti-LGBT bias (76crimes.com, Nov. 6, 2013)
- Zambian First Lady seeks dialog; media prefer gay-bashing (76crimes.com, Nov. 8, 2013)