The lawyers representing a Zimbabwe LGBT activist charged with possessing pornography have applied to have the matter discharged, following the state closing its case.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the organisation defending Ignatius Muhambi, said that the state failed to produce any “evidence to prove the essential elements of the offence and there is no evidence upon which a reasonable court acting carefully, might properly convict”.
According to Human Rights Watch the items which the state claims are pornographic are in fact educational materials.
In ZLHR’s application to the Magistrate’s Court, the defence counsel – led by David Hofisi, Jeremiah Bamu and Belinda Chinowawa – claimed that “at no point did the State lead evidence alleging that the DVD recovered the booklet or indeed the captions found in the DVD are ‘indecent, obscene or prohibited’ within the contemplation of the Act”.
The lawyers also argued that there was no proof that Muhambi was in “physical possession” of the items at the time of his arrest.
The matter has been postponed to allow the State Prosecutor to assess the application.
Muhambi and his colleague Ellen Chademana were arrested in a police raid on the offices of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) on May 21. Both have been charged with possession of pornography.
Chademana is being tried separately and will appear in court again next week.
Human rights groups say that the arrests were a politically motivated attempt to harass the LGBT community in Zimbabwe where homosexuality remains illegal.