Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Rukirabashaija, author of satirical novels about corruption and greed, is being held in prison, his lawyer said.

A Ugandan satirical novelist and critic of President Yoweri Museveni and his son has been tortured in captivity, his lawyer said.

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who won the PEN Pinter Prize International Writer of Courage award last year, was arrested on December 28 and has yet to be charged in any court.

Attorney Eron Kiiza said Wednesday Rukirabashaija showed signs of being tortured when security personnel brought him to his home Monday to search for evidence.

“It looked like he was vomiting, he was urinating blood, there were torture marks on his legs and feet, he was in deep pain,” Kiiza told Reuters news agency.

Kiiza added that since his arrest, Rukirabashaija has not been allowed visits by his lawyers or family.

On Tuesday, a court issued an order to police and other security agencies to present Rukirabashaija in court.

Kiiza said he understood the novelist was being held at a facility run by Special Forces Command, an elite military unit previously commanded by Museveni’s son who handles special missions, including guarding the president .

Criticism of Museveni

Rukirabashaija has written several books, including his famous The Greedy Barbarian, a satirical novel about a fictional country that tackles themes of corruption and greed.

The novel is widely seen in Uganda to reflect the political life of Museveni (77) and his government.

He was critical of Museveni, who has ruled the country since 1986, and his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a military general widely regarded as willing to take over the presidency from his father.

Days before his arrest, Rukirabashaija called Kainerugaba in a tweet “pig’s head” and “plump” and denounced the alleged plans to succeed him his father.

Following the arrest, PEN International released a statement saying he “fears for his safety and well-being as the security forces continue to detain him in communication and without prosecuting him in a court of law”.

“Criticism of those in power is not a crime. “It is appalling that Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is facing harassment by the state, again because of his critical views on his country’s first family,” Romana Cacchioli, executive director of PEN International, said in a statement.

The London organization on Tuesday welcomed the order of the judiciary to release Kakwenza Rukira “immediately and unconditionally – illegally detained incommunicado since 28.12.21 and allegedly tortured in custody”.

Over the past two years, Rukirabashaija has been arbitrarily arrested twice and detained in communication.

In April 2020, he was arrested at his home and detained for seven days. PEN International said that “although the entire interrogation was reportedly about the content of his novel, he was put on trial in court on April 21, 2020 and charged with violating COVID-19 health regulations”.

He was arrested again in September 2020 and questioned about his second book, in which he described the torture he was subjected to during his first detention.

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