Roger Jean Claude Mbede, 34, the Cameroonian man who was sentenced to three years in prison for sending an amorous text to a male acquaintance, died today in his home village after running out of money to pay for medical care.
During 16 months in prison, Mbede was the focus of an intense international push for his release, including campaigns by Amnesty International and All Out.
He won provisional release on July 16, 2012, for medical treatment of a hernia. He remained free afterward, but in ill health. Because he had become well-known in Cameroon as a homosexual, he usually remained in hiding for his own safety, friends said. For the same reason, he changed his residence three times, they said.
In late 2012, the Central Appeals Court refused to overturn the original lower-court decision that sentenced him to prison. His further appeal of that refusal was pending while he sought continued medical care.
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