One of the activists recently arrested in a raid on an LBGT group’s offices in Zimbabwe has pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.
The AFP press agency has reported that Ignatius Muhambi entered a plea of “not guilty” to charges of possession of pornography.
He was charged following the raid on the Harare offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) on May 21. Muhambi, who was arrested but is now out on bail, is an accountant for the organisation.
Ellen Chademana, an office administrator, was also arrested in the raid for possession of pornographic material.
Subsequent charges of “undermining the authority of the President” appear to have been dropped.
“A search was done in the office and one pornographic DVD and pornographic booklet was recovered from the office being used by the accused,” Prosecutor Memory Mugabe told the court.
Mugabe, who is not related to President Robert Mugabe, said that these included images of men having sex. According to Human Rights Watch, however, the items are educational materials.
Muhambi’s trial is set to continue on Monday while Chademana’s separate trial will begin on Wednesday. Both claim to have been tortured by police when they were arrested.
Human rights groups say that the arrests were a politically motivated attempt to harass the LGBT community in Zimbabwe where homosexuality remains illegal.
GALZ, the only organisation of its kind in the country, provides critical HIV/AIDS and psychological support and services to the LGBT community.