Uganda. Critical author detained despite court order | News | DW

Ugandan award-winning author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was dragged from jail by a group of men on Tuesday, despite a court order to release him on bail earlier in the day, his lawyer said.

Rukirabashaija, a critic of President Yoweri Museveni, was arrested in December and held without charge and without being allowed to speak with anyone outside until January 11, when he was charged with “offensive communication”. .

On Tuesday, a court in Kampala granted Rukirabashaija bail on condition that he not communicate with the press. But before he could be released, a group of men “kidnapped” him and took him to an unknown location, his lawyer Eron Kiiza said.

“About four hours after [Tuesday’s] court hearing, armed men in civilian clothes came to the prison and took Kakwenza away, we are thinking of the SFC headquarters in Entebbe,” he told AFP, referring to the command unit of the Uganda National Defense Force special forces.

Who is Kakwenza Rukirabashaija?

Winner of the PEN Pinter Prize as an ‘international writer of courage’, Rukirabashaija, 33, is best known for his book ‘The Greedy Barbarian’, which has been described as a thinly veiled satire of Museveni’s reign.

Rukirabashaija has also been outspoken on social media in his criticism of the strongman and his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba. The author wrote on Twitter that the president was an “election thief” and that his son was “intellectually bankrupt”.

Many believe Kainerugaba is groomed to succeed Museveni, 77, in power since 1986.

His book ‘The Greedy Barbarian’ is considered a thinly veiled satire of President Museveni’s regime

Torture charges

During his bail hearing, Rukirabashaija was ordered to pay 500,000 Ugandan shillings ($142; €126), deposit his passport and not comment on the case in the media.

His lawyer Kiiza previously told Reuters news agency that his client had been tortured in prison. Rukirabashaija also said he was brutally beaten when questioned in 2020 about the content of “The Greedy Barbarian”.

The case had sparked international interest with US and EU officials present in the courtroom on Tuesday.

Speaking on the steps of the courthouse after the bail hearing, Kiiza said he doesn’t expect the case to go “through” because state prosecutors did not have a solid case against his client.

Update, January 26, 2022: This article has been revised after learning that Rukirabashaija has been detained again after being released on bail.

ab, es/rs (AFP, Reuters)

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