Malawi Judge Delays Gay Marriage Ruling

Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa, who had been expected to deliver his verdict during the hearing, said prosecutors had established a case against the couple but agreed to allow defence lawyers to call witnesses.

“The court has established a prima facie case against the accused persons,” the judge told the courtroom, adding that the couple could call their witnesses from April 3.

“The accused will want to defend themselves and call their own witnesses,” the couple’s lawyer Oswald Ntuwakale told AFP.

The couple, who face up to 14 years in jail, has already argued that their arrest violates their freedom of conscience.

Riot police escorted Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, in handcuffs into the small courtroom, which was packed with gay activists, journalists and diplomats.

Police pushed back a crowd of about 50 other people outside the court clamouring to get inside.

The couple were arrested on December 28 in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, two days after holding the country’s first public same-sex wedding.

They have been denied bail, with prosecutors arguing that their safety could not be guaranteed in this conservative southern African nation. AFP