Sentencing delayed for Malawi gay couple
Two gay men who held a wedding ceremony in Malawi have had their sentencing delayed.
Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were expected to be jailed today but the judge delayed sentencing and allowed them to call defence witnesses.
Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa adjourned the case until April 3rd, saying the couple had a case to answer.
The couple’s lawyer Oswald Ntuwakale told AFP: “The accused will want to defend themselves and call their own witnesses.”
This morning’s hearing was packed and reports said a large group of people outside the courtroom jostled to be allowed in.
Monjeza and Chimbalanga could face up to 14 years in jail, in line with the country’s strict laws on homosexuality.
They have been in custody for almost three months, having twice been denied bail, and have pleaded not guilty to charges of sodomy and indecency.
They were arrested on December 28th after holding a traditional wedding ceremony in Blantyre.
Their lawyers argue their arrest and detention is unconstitutional.
A protest is being held today outside the Commonwealth offices in London to ask the Commonwealth to condemn homophobic persecution in Malawi.