Jailed Suspected Gay Nigerian Men Released On Bail
The seven suspected gay men were imprisoned in January during the initial wave of arrests under Nigeria's vicious anti-gay law. An angry mob had called for the men's speedy convictions soon after they were detained.
A clerk at the upper sharia court in the Unguwar Jaki district of Bauchi, which is hearing one of the cases, confirmed the release of three of the men.
"The court granted bail to the three remaining suspects at the last trial session on 11 March, pending the determination of their cases," said Abdul Mohammed.
"The judge's decision to grant them bail was borne out of the fact that none of the accused was caught in the act, which is an indispensable condition to warrant the death sentence. That means they would not get the death penalty at the end."
The other four men are on trial at Tudun Alkali upper sharia court, also in Bauchi.
The men's cases have been heard in secret after an angry mob pelted the defendants with stones after a hearing on 23 January, demanding their immediate execution.
Police had to break up the riot with teargas.
"Since the mob action on 23 January, the sodomy trials have been going on in secret in another location and the trial dates are never made public," said Mohammed.
Sharia law provides for death by stoning for sodomy once it is established by four witnesses to the act or voluntary confession.
Earlier this month, four other suspected gay men were given 15 lashes with a horse whip in public.
What's it like to be gay in Nigeria? Watch a BBC news segment which attempts to answer that question, AFTER THE JUMP.