Jail time for transgender women in Cameroon extended after trial delay

by Reuters
Monday, 5 April 2021 18:17 GMT

Mildred Loic, a local social media celebrity called Shakiro, is seen in this picture obtained from social media on March 24, 2021. Shakiro237/Facebook/via REUTERS

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The two transgender women were arrested on Feb. 8 for wearing women's clothes while eating in a restaurant

April 5 (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 Feb. 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 Feb. 10. They also face charges of public indecency and not carrying identification. They have pled not guilty.

Shakiro's legal name is Loic Njeukam, while Patricia's is Roland Mouthe. Some supporters have referred to them as Mildred Loic and Moute Rolland.

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 deined 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 Editing by Peter Graff)