Uganda's pop star politician 'framed and beaten'

2018-08-17 19:16
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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Security forces framed and beat a Ugandan pop star-turned-politician who faces a military trial for weapons possession, his wife and lawyer said on Friday, as protests at his arrest continued.

Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, was arrested on Tuesday and charged in the northern city of Gulu two days later.

Barbie Kyagulanyi claimed her husband has been framed.

"In all the things he has been involved in, Bobi has stayed away from guns so it was a surprise to us when security claimed he had two in his hotel room," she said.

"The whole thing was a set up by the military. Bobi has never owned a gun."

Kyagulanyi's lawyer Asuman Basalirwa claimed the 36-year-old singer who was elected to parliament last year had been badly beaten while in custody.

"His face was bruised when he appeared in army court. He could hardly talk or walk. He was supported and even sitting was problematic, an indication he was tortured," said Basalirwa.

Barbie said she believed her husband had been beaten to "subdue him because he speaks his mind".

 Outspoken Museveni critic 

Army spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire dismissed the torture allegations saying that any injuries suffered by Kyagulanyi might have been caused during "scuffles" at the time of his arrest.

"It cannot be true that (the army) tortured Honourable Kyagulanyi. We don't torture suspects," Karemire said.

Human rights groups have routinely accused the Ugandan army and police of both torture and illegal killings.

Kyagulanyi has emerged as an outspoken voice of young Ugandans and a critic of the country's elderly and long-serving president, Yoweri Museveni, 74.

Museveni has been in charge since 1986 and recently removed consitutional age limits allowing him to run for a sixth term in 2021.

Kyagulanyi's arrest followed an incident in the northwestern town of Arua on Monday when a crowd of opposition supporters threw rocks at the presidential motorcade, smashing one of Museveni's car windows.

Police used live bullets to disperse the crowd, killing Kyagulanyi's driver in the process.

On Friday, police patrolled Kyagulanyi's Kamwokya constituency in the capital Kampala, breaking up groups of protesters demanding his release.

There was also a strong military presence outside the Makindye army barracks where he is being held.

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Read more on:    uganda  |  east africa
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