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Kakwenza's wife sues SFC commander, IGP

Eva Basiima, the wife of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has sued the elite Special Forces Command (SFC) boss Brig, Gen Peter Candia over the continued detention of her husband without trial.

In an application filed before the civil division of the High court, Basiima sued Candia alongside Grace Akullo the director of Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID), Martins Okoth Ochola, the Inspector General of Police, and the Attorney General. 

Basiima contends that her husband was arrested from their other home in Kisaasi, Nakawa Division in Kampala by armed officers last week, and he has since remained inaccessible. Basima says that she got an opportunity to see Kakwenza on Monday when plain-clothed men and armed SFC soldiers drove him to their upcountry home in Iganga district, eastern Uganda to conduct a house search for three hours.      

Basiima adds that when Kakwenza was brought for the search, he was still wearing the same clothes he was wearing at the time of arrest, looked tortured, frail, and was limping with a blood-stained vest and underwear. Basiima says her husband was only allowed to take his first shower and brush his teeth after eight days with an officer inside the bathroom.

CID spokesperson Charles Twiine says Kakwenza was arrested over allegations of insulting the first son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba when he called him 'obese' on Twitter.

Basiima now through her lawyers of Nalukoola, Kakeeto Advocates and Solicitors, and Kiiza and Mugisha Advocates wants the High court to order the respondents to bring Kakwenza dead or alive and explain why he should not be released from custody.

On Tuesday, Makindye Chief Magistrate's court grade one magistrate Irene Nambatya issued an order directing the government to unconditionally release Kakwenza. This was on grounds that Kakwenza had been in detention for more than the mandatory 48 hours without being arraigned in court which violates his constitutional right to liberty and fair hearing.

The state has however continued to defy that court order. In 2020, Kakwenza was arrested twice in a space of six months. He was first arrested on April 13 from his country home in Iganga allegedly by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and detained in Mbuya.  He was later charged with doing an act likely to spread an infectious disease following a post on his Facebook page related to COVID-19.

He was later granted bail but again arrested in September of the same year with his lawyers saying it was in relation to his book titled “The Banana Republic”, in which he had written about his experience under CMI custody earlier. 

He had also previously written a book titled “The Greedy Barbarian” in which he talked about a fictitious greedy and incompetent dictator Kayibanda who clings to power for 43 years. 

In October 2021, Kakwenza was awarded as the winner of International Writer of Courage at the PEN Pinter Prize function. This annual award is normally presented to a person who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

Kakwenza has since sued the government seeking compensation for infringement of his rights after he was illegally detained in 2020 where he was reportedly tortured and kept incommunicado. But his case is yet to be determined by the High court.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd