Ugandan court orders satirical novelist’s release

  • Caquinza Rukirapachaiga was arrested at his home in the capital last week.
  • He was arrested and tortured for allegedly publishing unwelcome comments about President Yoweri Museveni’s son.
  • The author has won praise for his 2020 satirical novel The Greedy Barbarian.

A court in Kampala on Tuesday ordered the release of a well-known Ugandan novelist who was detained and tortured after he made ugly remarks about veteran President Yoweri Museveni’s son.

Satirist and outspoken critic of the government, Caquinza Rukirapachaiga was arrested at his home in the capital last week.

Rukirabashiga is accused of abusing Museveni’s son, Muhuzi Kaynerugaba, a powerful general that many Ugandans believe is positioning himself to replace his 77-year-old father, calling him “obese” and “stingy” in social media posts.

Judge Irene Nampatia ruled that Rukirapachaiga be released “unconditionally”, saying: “Every police officer must comply with the above order.”

His lawyer, Iron Chiesa, told AFP that the writer was supposed to appear in another court to answer charges of “aggressive contact”, but he did not appear.

Chiesa said that his client was denied access and that he was tortured in detention.

“The police are afraid to bring him to court with signs of torture, so they take a long time to bring him to court,” he said.

Police spokesman Charles Twain said Rukirabashaiga will be charged under the Computer Misuse Act with a crime that can result in up to a year in prison.

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The author has won praise for his 2020 satirical novel “The Greedy Barbarian,” which describes high-level corruption in a fictional country.

Received the 2021 PEN Pinter Prize for International Writer of Courage, awarded annually to a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about his beliefs.

Rukirabashaiga has been repeatedly arrested since the publication of “The Greedy Barbarian” and said he was tortured while being interrogated by military intelligence about his work.

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