Award-winning Ugandan Writer Charged for Offending Museveni and Son

A Ugandan author who wrote critical comments about President Yoweri Museveni’s son has been charged with offensive communications. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija’s lawyer says he was tortured in detention.  

Award-winning writer Kakwenza Rukirabashaija appeared before a court Tuesday and was charged with two counts of offensive communication.

Rukirabashaija was arrested on December 28 and taken from his Kampala home. The government says he was using his Twitter account to offend President Yoweri Museveni and his son, Commander of Land Forces Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

The writer’s lawyer, Eron Kiiza, tells VOA he was not made aware of his client’s court appearance until later.

“This was a clandestine move intended to deny him an opportunity for legal representation and an opportunity to pursue his legal remedies like bail and opposing the charges which are bogus,” said Kiiza.

Rukirabashaija’s court appearance comes a day after the high court issued an order for it to take place before the close of business Wednesday.

The magistrate Tuesday also issued an order for him to be subjected to a medical examination by prison authorities to ascertain his health status.

During a January 3rd search at his home in Iganga district in the Eastern region, the writer reportedly whispered to his wife that he had been tortured. Photos of his blood-stained undergarments were later posted on social media. 

The author was allegedly detained at the Special Forces Command facility in Entebbe, a claim the army vehemently denied.

The award-winning writer has been remanded to a prison facility until January 21, when he reappears before a court.

This is the third time he has been arrested. The first time was in April 2020 for his novel, The Greedy Barbarian, a fictional account of high-level corruption. He was again arrested the following September for his second novel titled Banana Republic, which detailed torture. 

He won the PEN Pinter Prize International Writer of Courage Award in 2021.

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