Associated Press reports that Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been found guilty of unnatural acts and gross indecency. Nyakwawa Usiwa, Blantyre’s Chief Resident Magistrate issued the verdict today. They could face up to 14 years in jail under Malawi’s laws. They are expected to be sentenced later today.
They have been in custody since their arrest on December 27th and both denied the charges against them. Their lawyers attempted to have the case thrown out by arguing the trial violated constitutional laws but were unsuccessful.
Peter Tatchell, who has been championing their case, argued that the prosecution had not proved they broke the law. He told PinkNews: “This is an appalling verdict. There is no evidence to justify it. Steven and Tiwonge freely confirmed their love for each other but the prosecution presented no credible evidence that they had committed any sexual acts. The law under which they were convicted is a law that only applies to same-sex relationships. It violates article 20 of the Malawi constitution, which guarantees equality and non-discrimination.”