The Ugandan government is challenging a court order for the release from custody of acclaimed Ugandan author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who is accused of insulting the president’s son, a state lawyer said Friday.
The move came despite mounting international calls for the police to abide by Tuesday’s ruling for Rukirabashaija, who was arrested at his home just days after Christmas and has allegedly been tortured in detention.
The writer had been expected to appear in court on Tuesday to be charged with “offensive communication” after describing Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the powerful son of veteran President Yoweri Museveni, as “obese” and a “curmudgeon” in social media posts.
“The state is not satisfied with the order (to free Rukirabashaija),” senior state attorney Christine Kaahwa told AFP.
“The attorney general has formally requested the court to urgently avail us (of) a certified copy of the proceedings, the ruling and order to enable us to take appropriate action.”
Rukirabashaija’s lawyer Eron Kiiza told AFP they had been notified of the state’s action to prevent the release of the author, best known for his 2020 satirical novel “The Greedy Barbarian”.
“But we insist the police must comply as directed by the court to release our client because he has been illegally detained — and for a long time,” Kiiza said.
Rukirabashaija, 33, was arrested at his home on December 28 and risks up to one year in prison if convicted of the offence under the Computer Misuse Act.
Kakwenza’s wife Eva Basiima also said she has filed a suit against the police and the Special Forces Command, a unit in charge of security for the president and his family, accusing them of “illegal detention” of her husband.
She said she last saw him on Monday in the company of armed plain-clothed security men who went to search their rural home in Iganga, about 110 kilometres (70 miles) east of Kampala.
“He looked tortured, he was limping, he had not bathed and his underwear had bloodstains,” Basiima said.
“He was in bad shape but since his arrest, we have not been able to visit him and efforts to know where he could be are being frustrated by the security.”
The United States and the European Union are among those calling for his release.