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Gay 'prisoner of conscience' Roger Jean-Claude Mbede dies at age 34 in Cameroon

BY ANNE MIREILLE NZOUANKEU
ASSOCIATED PRESS

rogerYAOUNDE, Cameroon -- A gay man in Cameroon who was jailed for sending a text message to another man saying "I'm very much in love with you," and who was later declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, has died, according to a lawyer who worked on his case.

Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, 34, died on Friday after his family removed him from the hospital where he had been seeking treatment for a hernia, lawyer Alice Nkom said.

"His family said he was a curse for them and that we should let him die," she said.

Mbede was arrested in March 2011 in connection with the text message and convicted the following month under a Cameroonian law that imposes up to five years in prison for homosexual acts. He received a three-year sentence.

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