22 January 2014

Nigeria: Mob in Nigeria Stones Accused Gays

Abuja — Police used tear gas outside a court in northern Nigeria to disperse an angry mob throwing rocks at prisoners accused of being gay.

Scores of young men appeared outside an Islamic court Wednesday in Bauchi, Nigeria, as nine men, including a college professor, were brought in for trial.

Outside the courthouse, the crowd shouted: "God will punish you!" as the defendants' vehicle approached.

After rocks were thrown at the vehicle, the police dispersed the crowd with tear gas. The only damage was to a nearby car.

Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, and a new law bans gay organizations and says gay marriages are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

In Islamic courts, homosexuality is punishable by death. However, a person convicted under Islamic law in Nigeria has the right to appeal in a secular court.

In the Islamic courtroom in Bauchi only one defendant, a high school principal, had a lawyer and requested bail.

The lawyer, Kambi Musa, said he was disappointed the judge denied his client bail, but he was prepared for the next hearing.

Court officials told a VOA reporter the judge did not decide any of Wednesday's cases because the defendants could be in danger if they were set free for lack of evidence. The final decision, the official said, will be made privately inside the jailhouse.

Ardo Hazzard contributed to this report from Bauchi.

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