Uganda's pop star MP rearrested seeking treatment abroad

2018-08-31 13:59
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 singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine, was being held at a government hospital on Friday after being rearrested while attempting to seek medical treatment abroad.

Ssentamu - who faces treason charges alongside 32 others after President Yoweri Museveni's car window was allegedly broken by a tossed stone - was released on bail on Monday but seized by police on Thursday evening at Entebbe airport, outside the capital Kampala.

"The Uganda Police have violently blocked Bobi Wine from travelling outside of the country in spite of the court declining to do so when being released on bail earlier in the week," said his Ugandan lawyer Nicholas Opiyo. "This is absurd to say the least."

During his bail hearing on Monday the judge had allowed Ssentamu to keep his passport, against the wishes of state prosecutors.

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The MP's international lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, said: "Bobi Wine was fully within his rights to travel for medical treatment. Again, he has done nothing wrong. Again, he has broken no law. And again, the police beat him and detained him and will later make up some sort of false excuse."

Ssentamu's supporters say that he was badly beaten and tortured while in army custody, during and after his arrest in the northwestern town of Arua earlier this month, and requires medical treatment abroad.

Opiyo accused authorities of wanting "to create their own medical records" to hide evidence of torture.

Hours earlier fellow lawmaker Francis Zaake, who is also accused of treason and, like Ssentamu, claims to have been assaulted in custody, was also blocked from leaving the country and arrested at the same airport.

After his rearrest Ssentamu was taken to Kirrudu General Hospital, a government facility in Kampala.

The 36 year-old pop singer entered politics last year and has become a lightning rod for youthful opposition to the long rule of Museveni, 74, who has held power since 1986.

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

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