James Mwape and Philip Mubiana (Pic: Erasing 76 Crimes)
The ordeal of two men accused of homosexuality in Zambia seems to know no end after the verdict in their trial was delayed for a second time.
Barber Philip Mubiana and bricklayer James Mwape, both in their early twenties, have spent more than a year in jail on charges of having ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature.’
After numerous bureaucratic delays and bungles, the verdict in the trial was set to have been handed down on Monday.
According to AFP, Magistrate Ackson Mumba instead informed the packed courtroom in Kapiri Mposhi that the magistrate who has been hearing the case, John Mbuzi, would not be available to deliver his judgement.
He gave no explanation as to why Mbuzi did not attend the proceedings and adjourned the matter until July 3.
The verdict was originally scheduled to be delivered on May 30 and was then delayed because the magistrate had “not received submissions in good time [to prepare his judgement].”
Mubiana and Mwape have been in detention since May 2013. They have denied the charges and face between 15 years to life in prison if found guilty.
In addition to being refused the right to bail and to a speedy trial and being forced to live under appalling conditions, they were also subjected to invasive medical tests against their will after their arrest to determine whether they had engaged in anal sex.
Earlier this month, Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Gabriel Namulambe, proclaimed that his country will not recognise gay rights as to do so would be contrary to its constitutional Christian values.