Zambia: Verdict in sodomy case ‘postponed indefinitely’

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Two men accused of having sex “against the order of nature” continue to be held, after their trial verdict was postponed indefinitely.

James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, both 22, have been imprisoned in Zambia since May 2013.

Their trial concluded in February this year, but the pair continue to be held, as they were denied bail.

Mwape and Mubiana were due to hear finally hear the verdict today, but according to Amnesty International, it has been postponed indefinitely by the court.

Zambia’s Penal Code criminalises homosexuality among men, and if convicted, the two could be imprisoned for 14 years each.

Amnesty International researcher Simeon Mawanza said: “These men have already spent over a year in prison having been denied bail in a case where they are accused of something that should not be a crime.

“Locking up people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation is reprehensible and a clear breach of international law and justice.

“The wheels of justice have been turning very slowly for these two men. Their incarceration in the first place, and inexcusable delays in proceedings, reflect very badly on the justice system in Zambia.

“Amnesty International regards both men to be prisoners of conscience and is calling for their immediate and unconditional release.

“We are worried about the shrinking space for human rights in Zambia under the current administration.

“Fundamental freedoms have increasingly come under attack with political opponents, civil society and sexual minorities being systematically suppressed.”

Both men deny the charges against them.