- The defence lawyers of nine Senegalese men who were sentenced to eight years in jail in January, have appealed the sentences before the Dakar Court of Appeal saying the accusations were baseless without the material and tangible prove.
In January, the Senegalese court jailed nine men to 8 years imprisonment for indecent conduct and unnatural acts. The men aged under 30 were arrested in December in the Dakar suburb of Mbao.
The attorneys argued that the procedure presented technical irregularities contradicting the prescriptions of Article 45 of the Senegalese Code of Criminal Procedure, which calls for material prove to support the accusations.
They further stated that the procedure contravened Article 407 of the Senegalese Code of Criminal Procedure, since no specific complainant had filed criminal charges against the men.
“There were irregularities regarding the time at which the men were arrested, the conditions in which they were arrested and the absence of witnesses,” the lawyers argued.
Local reports said Senegalese law dictates that arrests can only take place between 6 am and 6 pm, of which it was not the case for the alleged gay men arrests.
The reports said the country’s prosecution did not contest the defence's plea. The appeal took place after the court rejected the men's application for bail on 30 March 2009. A judgment is expected on 20 April.
Gay rights groups and communities have condemned the sentence saying the eight-year jail term was the harshest ever handed down to anyone accused of gay crimes.
Under Senegalese penal code, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment of between one and five years and a fine of US $200 to 3,000 CFA francs but the judge added three years to the maximum five-year sentence after ruling that the men were also members of a criminal organisation.
Senegal is one of Africa's strongest suppressors of gays and lesbians.
Last year, the African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights expressed concern over the rise of homophobia and hatred of homosexuals in Senegal.
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