‘Tortured’ Ugandan author flees into exile: lawyer

The charges against the author relate to unflattering comments on Twitter about Museveni and his powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba – Copyright AFP PEDRO PARDO

A prominent Ugandan novelist who was charged with insulting President Yoweri Museveni and his son has fled the country out of fear for his life, his lawyer said Wednesday.

“He has left Uganda,” Eron Kiiza, the lawyer for Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, told AFP.

He said his client, who claims to have been tortured behind bars, was seeking medical treatment abroad for the injuries inflicted.

“He fears poisoning as a result of his injuries and the injections of unknown substances he was subjected to,” Kiiza said.

He said the 33-year-old Rukirabashaija, who last year won an international award for persecuted writers, had told him he was in neighbouring Rwanda and was aiming to reach Europe.

Rukirabashaija was detained shortly after Christmas and later charged with “offensive communication” in a case that has raised international concern, with the European Union among those calling for an investigation into rights abuses in Uganda.

He appeared on television at the weekend to reveal welts criss-crossing his back and scars on other parts of his body.

“They beat me with batons, everywhere. You collapse, they beat you, you get up, you go into unconsciousness,” he said in the interview with NTV Uganda.

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