James Mwape and Philip Mubiana (Pic: Erasing 76 Crimes)
After spending more than a year in jail, the nightmarish homosexuality trial of two Zambian men has been delayed again.
Barber Philip Mubiana and bricklayer James Mwape, both in their early twenties, are charged with having ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature.’
The verdict in their trial was meant to have been delivered on Friday. They appeared in court hoping to finally know their fate, only to be told that the matter has been delayed again until 16 June.
According to the Zambia Daily Mail, the magistrate had “not received submissions in good time (to prepare his judgement).” It is unclear if these outstanding submissions are from the defence or the prosecution.
Mubiana and Mwape have been in detention since May 2013 in rural Kapiri Mposhi while their trial has faced repeated postponements and delays and their bail applications have been refused.
They have denied the charges and face between 15 years to life in prison if found guilty.
“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,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.
“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,” he said.
In addition to being denied the right to bail and a speedy trial and being forced to live under appalling conditions, Mwape and Mubiana were also subjected to invasive medical tests against their will after their arrest to determine whether they had engaged in anal sex.