Uganda pop star MP re-arrested over treason

Kampala, Thursday

The Ugandan MP and pop star Bobi Wine has been charged with treason in a civilian court shortly after a military court freed him.

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was immediately re-arrested after being released.

The chief magistrate Court in the northern town of Gulu ordered Wine to be held in custody until August 30. He will appear alongside 34 others also charged with treason last week. His lawyers say he has been assaulted in detention, which the military and President Yoweri Museveni deny.

Wine was detained along with 30 others ahead of last week’s by-election in the north-western town of Arua.

The arrests have raised tension across the country and sparked protests. Police have sealed off the homes of a number of opposition politicians, and high-profile opposition figure Kizza Besigye has been arrested in the capital Kampala.

Uganda’s New Vision newspaper reported that Bobi Wine looked “weak” as he initially appeared before the military court in the northern city of Gulu, where charges of unlawfully possessing firearms were dropped.

His lawyer said he needed “urgent medical care”, the newspaper reported. After being freed by the General Court Martial, Bobi Wine was told by his lawyer that he was under arrest again and he was put into a police vehicle with his wife to be taken to the Chief Magistrates Court, the BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in Gulu says.

There have been protests against his detention in Uganda and calls by global stars such as Chris Martin, Damon Albarn and Angelique Kidjo for his release.

The charges are widely viewed as politically motivated and aimed at silencing a prominent critic of the president. The US decried the “brutal treatment” of MPs, journalists and others by security forces.

On Tuesday the Ugandan military apologised after soldiers were caught on film beating up a journalist who was covering a demonstration supporting Wine.         – Agencies

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