Award-winning Ugandan author who fled the country after being charged with insulting President Yoweri Museveni and his son has arrived in Germany to seek medical treatment after being “tortured” in detention.
Describing the news as “a big relief”, Eron Kiiza, the lawyer for Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, said, “he arrived in Germany this morning.”
Rukirabashaija,33, was detained shortly after Christmas and later charged with “offensive communication” in a case that raised international concerns.
Human rights organisations including the European Union have called on the Uganda authorities to regard international statutes in this regard. The EU requested a “comprehensive investigation” into rights abuses in Uganda.
Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement earlier this month, “It is intolerable that Ugandan security forces are still torturing and ill-treating detainees.”
The Novelist slipped out of Uganda two weeks ago, after a court denied his application to have his passport returned. This was ahead of a criminal trial that was due to begin today.
He said he was tortured in detention and appeared on television earlier this month to reveal painful-looking welts criss-crossing his back and scars on other parts of his body.
Rukirabashaija, who was released on bail last month, fled Uganda by walking into neighbouring Rwanda across the hilly border and then travelled to a third country.
The UN Refugee Agency then facilitated his journey to Germany, according to Kiiza who declined to provide further details.
The charges against Rukirabashaija relate to unflattering comments on Twitter about Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, and his powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
In one tweet,he described Kainerugaba, a general believed to be positioning himself to take over from his 77-year-old father, as “obese” and a “curmudgeon”.
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