Cameroon: Lawyer criticises court after pair convicted of breaking anti-gay laws

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A court in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, has sentenced a man to two years in prison for committing an offence against a minor and for engaging in same-sex sexual activity.

The court has also handed down a suspended one-year jail sentence to an underage youth for breaking the country’s laws governing homosexuality.

AFP reports Joseph Ombga, may be released from custody shortly if he pays a fine of 50 000 CFA francs (76 euros; £65) and the same amount in legal expenses, as he has already been detained for almost two years at Yaounde’s central prison.

Mr Ombga, who had been charged and convicted with sex with a minor, and for engaging in same-sex sexual activity, was arrested at his home in August 2011 in the company of another man to whom he wanted to sell a porn video, according to his lawyers.

A third defendant in the same trial, identified as Seraphon Ntsama, was given “the benefit of the doubt” and acquitted. Mr Ntsama has also been held for almost two years in custody.

The defendants’ lawyer, Alice Nkom, denounced the proceedings, telling the court the three were being held “arbitrarily”.

“There is no case,” she said.

According to a March report by Human Rights Watch, Cameroon has prosecuted at least 28 people for same-sex activity since 2010.

The west African nation ranks as one of the most homophobic countries in the world. Same-sex sexual activity can be punished with up to five years in prison.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called on Cameroon to end its programme of arbitrary arrests and detentions, but so far without much effect.

Earlier today in London, LGBT rights activists held a vigil outside the Cameroonian Embassy in memory of Eric Ohena Lembemb.

The LGBT and HIV campaigner was murdered in Cameroon last week.

His body was found broken and burned at his home in Yaounde.