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Zimbabwe Judge Declines to Make Urgent Ruling on Charges Against Gay Activists


The two gay activists were arrested following a search of the group’s offices in Milton Park, Harare, by police who told them they were looking for pornographic material, and were also charged with denigrating President Mugabe

A Zimbabwean High Court judge on Tuesday refused to take up an urgent application by counsel for two activists of the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe arrested Friday, legal sources said, and added in a message to their lawyers that in any case she was not sure police would obey a court order if she issued one.

The statement by Judge Lavender Makoni was contained in a message to lawyers for GALZ members Ellen Chadian and Ignatius Muhambi, which was read to the lawyers by the clerk of court on duty on Tuesday.

Zimbabwean courts were closed for Africa Day. The activists were arrested following a search of the group’s offices in Milton Park, Harare, by police who told them they were looking for pornographic material.

The two also face charges of denigrating president Robert Mugabe. Police say a letter was posted in their office from Willie Lewis Brown, former mayor of San Francisco, criticizing Mr. Mugabe for his denunciation of homosexuality.

Human rights groups say there has been a surge in actions by police and security officials against members of the Movement for Democratic Change and the country's broader progressive movement in recent days.

Two officials of the MDC wing led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Morgan Komichi and Shakespeare Maya, were arrested for allegedly denigrating the president by singing political songs.

Job Sikhala, leader of a new MDC formation, has been charged with violating the Public Order and Security Act.

Attorney David Hofisi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, representing the two GALZ members, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that the High Court judge said the case was not urgent.

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