The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo has denied that the state tortured satirical novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija whilst in detention.
Kakwenza who’s currently out on bail was arrested on December 28, 2021 on charges of offensive communication when he allegedly used his Twitter handle, @KakwenzaRukira to disturb the peace of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba between December 26 and 28, 2021.
Before his release from prison, he narrated to the leader of opposition (LoP) Mathias Mpuuga that he was tortured by state operatives including injecting him with substances in his feet and hands six times every six hours, being denied sleep and made to dance with a jerrican full of water.This week on Tuesday, Kakwenza through his lawyers led by Eron Kiiza, made five requests before Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court presided over by the chief magistrate Dr Douglas Singiza including returning his passport to enable him to attend an event in Germany. His passport was deposited with the court last week as one of the bail conditions.
Besides asking for the return of the passport, Kakwenza also asked court to quash the charge sheet forming the offenses against him on grounds that it lacks focus and precision since it doesn’t show exactly the offensive words that he reportedly put on his Twitter handle.
The court was also asked to quash the charges on grounds that the court has no jurisdiction to try them because the prosecutors do not exactly state where Kakwenza allegedly committed the crimes from. Further, they asked Buganda Road court to refer the case file to the High court and stay the proceedings at Buganda Road court until the High court determines whether Kakwenza’s rights were violated at the time he was in detention by the beatings that resulted in wounds, injured legs and scars.
But magistrate Singiza ordered them to make written submissions. In the submissions, the prosecutors, submitted to the court a letter written by DPP Abodo to the Attorney General seeking his advice on the issue of returning Kakwenza’s passport saying that previously they have not had applications related to his request involving foreign missions.
The DPP says that they received a copy of a letter addressed to the chief magistrate from the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in which they were asking the court to allow Kakwenza to attend an event where he will be appointed an honorary member of Pen Center. But the prosecutors say the attorney general has not yet responded to them.
On the issue seeking to have charges dismissed, the DPP contends that the law does not require them to include the actual offensive words and how they affected the victims, saying that it’s an issue that will be adduced during evidence.
They also contend that by the time Kakwenza reportedly committed the crimes against him, he was in Kampala and his MTN phone number shows based on the call data on the dates in question.
The DPP also denies the torture allegations on grounds that the medical reports Kakwenza attached to his application, do not draw any medical conclusions that his current state of health resulted from torture while in detention after his arrest in December.
“The medical reports also do not give a period within which the injuries resulting into the noted scars could have occurred. It is, therefore, speculation by the defense attorneys to conclude that the accused was tortured and developed all the listed injuries during detention,” reads in part the state submissions.
However, the chief magistrate did not deliver the ruling saying that the parties had made lengthy submissions which required him to have sufficient time to read through them in order to make an appropriate decision. He adjourned the case to February 8.
One of Kakwenza’s lawyers Nalukoola Luyimbazi said that the charges against him are baseless and unfounded.