Gitega : seven people sentenced to one year and two years in prison for homosexuality

Gitega : seven people sentenced to one year and two years in prison for homosexuality

Of the seven suspects convicted of homosexuality, five were sentenced to two years in jail. Two took a year. Eighteen others were acquitted by the First Instance Court of Gitega (central Burundi). The defense says it will appeal. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The judgment was rendered on August 22, according to lawyers. The convicts work or are in the bodies of the “Muco” association. It is this local association which had organized a workshop when the concerned persons were arrested by the police and intelligence in the political capital Gitega, at the end of February 2023. Only one person was convicted in absentia. He is the former accountant of the said organization.

“18 defendants were acquitted, five were sentenced to two years in jail while two others will serve a one-year jail sentence”, explained one of the lawyers.

The seven people gathered within the association “Muco” were found guilty of “homosexuality and incitement to debauchery”, judicial sources confirmed to SOS Médias Burundi.

Death of one of the acquitted persons

Mevin Shurweryimana died overnight from Thursday to Friday. He was treated for a few days at the regional hospital in Gitega. Sources familiar with the matter accuse the prison services and the provincial prosecutor’s office of having refused him a transfer in time.

“The director of the prison and the prosecution refused to give him permission to go for treatment in time as he was suffering from hepatitis B. When they did, it was too late, his health had already deteriorated”, they told SOS Médias Burundi.

This former mobilizer of the “Muco” association, originally from the village in the locality of Mugutu (Gitega) will be buried on Tuesday, according to sources close to his family.

The Director General in charge of penitentiary affairs, the spokesperson for the Attorney General of the Republic and the head of the central prison of Gitega were not available to react to these allegations. They also did not respond to messages we sent to them on WhatsApp messaging.

Four people appeared being free. Until Monday evening, 14 detainees who should be released after the decision of the First Instance Court of Gitega, were still hosted in the prison of the political capital. One of the lawyers denounces “the non-respect of the law”.

Homosexuals, cursed people according to President Neva

“[…] Burundian homosexuals, even those who live outside the country, wherever they are, even in the USA, they must be banished, treated as pariahs, they are accursed”, insisted President Évariste Ndayishimiye during a parliamentary retreat in early March, without mentioning the group that had been apprehended in the town of Gitega a few days earlier.

And on August 15, during the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Catholic Church in Burundi, he did not mince his words in front of a representative of the Holy Father.

“Despite that Westerners have introduced Christianity to Burundi, we regret that they promote homosexuality, abortion, the manufacture of chemical weapons as well as euthanasia”, he lamented.

The defense has indicated that it will appeal.

Until December 2022, 68 countries in the world criminalized homosexuality. They are located in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. At least 11 of them apply the death penalty against homosexuals. In Burundi, they are punished with a sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine.

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