Court has set January 25 for ruling on detained satirical novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija’s request for bail.
During a video conferencing session presided by Chief Magistrate Dr Douglas Singiza, the accused’s lawyer Mr Eron Kiiza sought bail for his client by presenting four sureties including lawyer Julius Galisonga, opposition NUP party Secretary General, David Lewis Rubongoya, Job Kaija and a one Anna Ashaba.
In his application, Mr Kiiza January 21 argued that “it is his client’s constitutional right to apply for bail and there is reliable information that his client was tortured.”
Quoting a January 20 letter signed by Dr James Kisambu on behalf of Uganda’s Commissioner General of Prisons, defence lawyer Mr Kizza told court that Mr Kakwenza had healing scars on the back, buttocks, thighs and hands for which he was receiving medication at the time he was remanded to Kitalya Prison on January 11.
“They are obvious marks of torture by the security personnel who detained him and that’s why he needs to be released to receive further medical examination,” Mr Kizza said.
In response, state prosecutor Ms Joan Keko submitted that the “Prisons’ letter is inconclusive on alleged torture since it did not indicate the cause of those healing scar.”
The State further argued that court should deny Mr Kakweza bail as he might sabotage ongoing investigations.
Defence lawyer Mr Kiiza weighed in that his “client’s alleged offence was just a tweet and Mr Kakwenza has no capacity and desire to interfere with anonymous witnesses.”
“His gadgets including a computer and phones among other things were all confiscated by the security officers so there is no reason he should not be granted bail,” he said.
Mr Kakwenza was picked up by a joint security team from his home in Kisaasi, a Kampala suburb, on December 28, last year.
Urging a judicial resolution to this matter, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) which early this week visited the novelist at Kitalya Prison also said it “observed visible scars and torture injuries on Mr Kakwenza’s body that were healing.”
The award-winning author is accused of using social media and making abusive, derogatory and belittling tweets against First Son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba and President Museveni.
Mr Kakwenza was on January 11 secretly produced before Buganda Road Chief Magistrates’ Court and charged with two counts of offensive communication contrary to the Computer Misuse Act.
Prosecution contends that in December last year, Kakwenza wilfully and repeatedly used his Twitter account to disturb the peace of President Museveni and the First son, who also doubles as the commander of Land Forces.
However, Mr Kakwenza on Friday denied the charges and was further remanded to Kitalya prison.