Africa

Ugandan novelist granted bail 4 weeks after arrest

Uganda Prisons Service confirms writer was tortured before being taken to prison

Hamza Kyeyune   | 25.01.2022
Ugandan novelist granted bail 4 weeks after arrest File Photo

KAMPALA, Uganda

A Ugandan court on Tuesday granted bail to award-winning novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who has been in detention for four weeks.

The writer was charged with offensive comments he made on social media regarding the Ugandan president’s son Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

His lawyers said he was brutally tortured during the detention. The Uganda Prisons Service confirmed these claims which had been denied by the police.

Rukirabashaija’s lawyer Eron Kiiza submitted before the court a letter written by the commissioner-general of prisons, indicating that he was remanded with wounds sustained before he was taken to prison. As a result, the writer pleaded to be released on bail on grounds that he is a torture victim who needs medical attention.

He is barred from talking about the case in the media, asked to deposit his passport for a period of 6 months and report back to court on Feb. 1.

On Dec. 28 last year, plain-clothed gunmen with hammers violently broke into the residence of Rukirabashaija in Kampala and took him to an unknown location.

Police claimed he had on several occasions used his Twitter account to belittle the person of the president and his son Lt. Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is also the Commander of the Land Forces.

This is the third time Rukirabashaija has been arrested. On April 13, 2020, he was detained for seven days and interrogated about his novel The Greedy Barbarian which describes high-level corruption in a fictional country. Although the entire interrogation was reportedly about the contents of his novel, he was charged with violating COVID-19 health regulations.

On Sep. 18, he was arrested again and questioned about his second book, titled Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous, in which he describes the torture he was subjected to during his first detention.

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