Uganda drops weapons charges against jailed pop star

2018-08-23 11:11
Musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine. (File, AFP)

Musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine. (File, AFP)

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Ugandan military prosecutors on Thursday withdrew weapons charges against the jailed pop star-turned-lawmaker who opposes the longtime president, but he faced potentially more serious charges of treason in a civilian court.

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, had been charged last week with illegal possession of firearms for his alleged role in an incident in which President Yoweri Museveni's motorcade was pelted with stones.

See letters Ssentamu reportedly wrote to his children from prison below 

"The bogus charges have been dropped," attorney Medard Sseggona told local broadcaster NBS. "They claim they prefer charging him with the more serious offence of treason," which other colleagues face.

"You are accordingly set free unless being held on other charges," the head of the military court, Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti said in freeing Ssentamu.

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Ssentamu, who was limping, appeared to cry as he rubbed his eyes. A colleague wrapped the national flag about his shoulders.

The lawmaker had been arrested with four other opposition lawmakers, three of whom face treason charges. A fifth legislator has been hospitalised with injures allegedly sustained during detention.

Dozens of global musicians have spoken out condemning the alleged beating of Ssentamu in detention, which the government denies.

Making an appearance in a military court on Thursday, the 36-year-old legislator was seen in public for the first time since his detention. He clenched his fists and greeted supporters.

In recent days Uganda's government has faced mounting pressure at home and abroad to free Ssentamu. Security forces in recent days have violently put down street protests by Ugandans demanding his release.

Scores were arrested in riots in Kampala on Monday, and video by local broadcasters showed men in military uniforms beating up people, including at least two journalists.

Read more on:    robert kyagulanyi ssentamu  |  yoweri museveni  |  uganda  |  east africa

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