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Family petitions UN over detained Rwandan national

KAMPALA- The family of jailed Rwandan national, Rene Rutagungira has petitioned the United Nations Human Rights body accusing Uganda’s security personnel of violating his freedoms and torture.

Remanded at Makindye Military Prison, Rutagungira is jointly charged with eight other people including police officers in connection with kidnapping the former bodyguard of Rwandan President, Mr Paul Kagame in 2013 who was dubiously extradited to Rwanda and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The case is pending trial before the Makindye-based General Court Martial starting June 5 this year.

Other suspects include former Commandant of Police Professional Standard Unit; Joel Aguma, Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe, AIP Benon Atwebembeire, D/Cpl Amon Kwarisima attached to Crime Intelligence, Assistant Superintendent of Police James Magada (Crime Intelligence) and Mr Faisal Katende, a Special Police Constable  and Detective Sargent Abel Tumukunde both formerly attached to the defunct Flying Squad.

Bahati Mugenga Pacifique also known as Ilungu Monga, a Congolese national is also on the charge sheet. All the suspects have since pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In a May 9 letter to the Country Representative of the UN Human Rights, the family through Kiiza and Mugisha Advocates, accuses Uganda’s security agencies of torture.

According to the petition, Mr Rutagungira was arrested in August last year by soldiers attached to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) who subjected him to physical and mental torture including solitary confinement and death threats among other violations.

The lawyers’ letter shows that Mr Rutagungira has been denied visitation rights from his family, lawyers and medical personnel, a situation that has worried his family about the state of their relative.

“We therefore invite your good offices to take solid interest and strongly intervene in the matter so that you firmly demand an end to the said torture and other violations against the said Rene Rutagungira,” the letter reads in part.

Addressing journalists in Kampala, Mr Eron Kiiza the lawyer representing Mr Rutagungira explained that the move to seek the intervention of UN office followed the denial of the military court to hear his client’s application.

“Our client’s visitation rights have been denied yet the other suspects are allowed. His relatives, children, wife and lawyers have been blocked from accessing him at the prison and we believe this is a violation of his personal liberty and it is very painful for them,” Mr Kiiza said.

Accusations at the army court

The state alleges that on October 25 2013, at Kamengo in Mpigi District on Masaka Road, Aguma, Agasirwe Karuhanga, Magada, Atwebembeire, Tumukunde, Katende, Kwarisima, Rutangungira and Mugenga while in unlawful possession of firearms and grenades; ordinarily a monopoly of the defence forces, took a one Joel Mutabaazi without his consent to the Republic of Rwanda.

Prosecution further alleges that on the same day, the group also conveyed one Kalemera Jackson also known as Ndinga. ` Mutabazi, a former lieutenant in President Paul Kagame’s Republican Guard was allegedly kidnapped in Kampala in 2013 and handed over to his home government which sentenced him to life imprisonment.

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