KAMPALA, UGANDA: Satirical novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has asked Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court to release him on bail to enable him seek treatment for torture injuries.
Kakwenza appeared before the court presided over by the Chief Magistrate Dr Douglas Singiza through a zoom link connection to Kitalya min max prison on Friday.
The session was purposely organized to inform him of the status of investigations into charges of offensive communication that were preferred against him.
He is accused of using his Twitter handle, @KakwenzaRukira to allegedly disturb the peace of President Yoweri Museveni together with his son Lt General Muhoozi Kainerugaba with no purpose for legitimate communication. However, State Attorney Joan Keko informed court that investigations into the matter were still ongoing.
As a result, Kakwenza through his lawyers led by Eron Kiiza and Samuel Wanda asked to be released on bail on grounds that he is a torture victim who needs to seek medical attention from a medical facility of his choice. The court has heard that prior to his remand, Kakwenza was reportedly tortured from an unknown detention facility.
His lawyer Eron Kiiza submitted before the court, a letter written by Dr James Kisambu on behalf of the Commissioner-General of Prisons, indicating that Kakwenza was remanded with complaints of healing scars of wounds sustained before he was taken to prison.
Kiiza asked the court to release Kakwenza on a non-cash bail saying that he survives on selling his literature and one cannot tell when he will sell again if at all court orders him to pay for his bail. He presented four sureties to support the bail application, among them; David Lewis Rubongoya, the Secretary-General of the National Unity Platform, lawyer Julius Galisonga, Annah Ashaba, a teacher at Kololo Secondary School, and activist Job Kiija.
However, the State Attorney Joan Keko opposed the application on grounds that although there is a medical report from prison, it doesn’t show that the injuries sustained by Kakwenza are as a result of torture. Keko asked the court to deny him bail arguing that there is a likelihood that Kakwenza is most likely to interfere with investigations once granted bail.
She however added that if the court is pleased to grant bail, it should order Kakwenza to deposit his passport and identification card such that he doesn’t flee the country before the case is concluded. But the request was rejected on grounds that the Principal Judge Dr Flavian Zeija has ordered judicial officers not to retain original identification documents.
Singiza adjourned the matter to January 25, 2022, and will deliver his ruling on the bail application.
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