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10 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 10 months on homosexuality charges, defendants James Mwape and Philip Mubiana await the end of their ongoing trial.

Approaching 10 months in prison without bail on homosexuality charges, two young Zambian men learned today that their ordeal will continue.

Magistrate John Mbuzi ruled that the prosecution’s recently completed case against them was strong enough that the case should not be dismissed. Their trial is expected to resume on March 13, when the defense will begin to make its case.

Philip Mubiana and James Mwape have been in custody since May 6, 2013, following their arrest when family members in rural Kapiri Mposhi reported them to police.  They are facing two counts each of committing offenses “against the order of nature.” If convicted, they would face prison sentences of 15 years to life.

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.

Their repeated requests for bail have been repeatedly delayed.

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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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