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Prominent Ugandan writer appears in court

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A prominent Ugandan satirical writer and an outspoken government critic participated in a court hearing this Friday via a video link from prison to face accusations of “offensive communications”.

The defence’s lawyer says the state does not have evidence of wrongdoing.

“Hearing has not begun, because the state is not ready. It will never be ready. You will never see a trial in this matter, there is no evidence, there is nothing. This is political prosecution, the cases are fabricated. There is no life in them”, said Eron Kiiza, lawyer for Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.

It was the first time that Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 33 years old, has been seen in public since his arrest in December after posting critical comments on social media about President Yoweri Museveni and his powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

“We know that Kakwenza has no capacity nor the desire to interfere with witnesses because this is a matter of tweets and offensive communication, it’s an electronic crime. There is no way he can interfere with it”, added the defence lawyer.

The lawyer also alleges that Rukirabashaija was illegally detained by military intelligence officers and special forces soldiers and subject to torture by the Prison Services.

The author’s detention sparked calls from the United States, the European Union and civil society groups for his immediate release and protection from persecution.