(Reuters) – Two transgender women facing charges of “attempted homosexuality”, in a high profile case in Cameroon, will spend more than two months behind bars without trial, after a judge postponed their hearing again on Monday.
Shakiro, a local media celebrity and cosmetician, with 100,000 followers on Facebook, was arrested, along with Patricia, on February 8, for wearing women’s clothes while eating in a restaurant.
They have been in New Bell Prison in the country’s largest city, Douala, since February 10. They also face charges of public indecency, and not carrying identification. They have [pleaded] not guilty.
Rights groups have documented a series of actions against the LGBT community by Cameroonian authorities this year and last, leading to the arrest of dozens of people. A guilty verdict can carry a sentence of up to five years.
The trial, originally scheduled for March 24, was postponed until Monday, while the prosecution built its case. Prosecutors on Monday requested another delay until April 12. The defendants were [denied] bail.
“We are tired of these dismissals. They are human beings not animals,” said one of the defendant’s lawyers, Joseph Djabou. Another lawyer called their arrest “arbitrary and illegal”.
The reason for Monday’s delay was not clear. State prosecutors could not be immediately reached for comment.
-Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu Writing by Cooper Inveen and Edward McAllister