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Malawi leader meets Ban Ki-moon and pardons gay couple
May 29, 2010 / 2:26 PM / 7 years ago

Malawi leader meets Ban Ki-moon and pardons gay couple

<p>Gay couple Steven Monjeza (L) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga appear before a magistrate court in Blantyre in this January 4, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Eldson Chagara/Files</p>

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika on Saturday pardoned a gay couple sentenced to 14 years in jail after he held a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws, however, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions,” wa Mutharika said after a meeting with Ban Ki-moon at State House.

“I have done this on humanitarian grounds but this does not mean that I support this,” he added.

Ban, who was due to address the National Assembly later, is expected to ask the legislators to change the laws on homosexuality. Steven Monjeza, 26, and 20-year-old Tiwonge Chimbalanga, were arrested after celebrating their engagement in a traditional ceremony in late December.

They were tried and found guilty of sodomy and indecency earlier this month in a trial viewed as a test case for gay rights in the southern African country.

Reporting by Mabvuto Banda, editing by Tim Pearce

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