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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Uganda's pop star MP speaks out on alleged torture

Robert Kyagulanyi detailed beatings he allegedly received from security officers

Ugandan singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (C), better known as Bobi Wine, reacts as he gets into an ambulance after being released on bail in northern Uganda. AFP
Ugandan singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (C), better known as Bobi Wine, reacts as he gets into an ambulance after being released on bail in northern Uganda. AFP

Ugandan politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as pop star Bobi Wine, on Monday detailed for the first time beatings he allegedly received from security officers after his arrest last month.

In a lengthy statement posted on Facebook, Mr Kyagulanyi wrote that he wanted to "set the record straight".

The popular musician, 36, who entered Uganda's parliament as an independent MP last year, was arrested last month and charged with treason after some of his supporters allegedly stoned President Yoweri Museveni's car.

"They beat me, punched me and kicked me with their boots. No part of my body was spared," he said from the United States, where he is seeking medical treatment for injuries he claimed were inflicted during his arrest and detention.

"They wrapped me in a thick piece of cloth and bundled me into a vehicle," he wrote of his arrest in the north-western town of Arua.

"Those guys did to me unspeakable things in that vehicle! They pulled my manhood and squeezed my testicles while punching me with objects I didn't see," Mr Kyagulanyi said. The officers stole his wallet and phone before knocking him unconscious, he said.

Mr Kyagulanyi was rearrested while trying to leave the country to seek medical treatment. He was subsequently allowed to depart.

The young MP has become a lightning rod for opposition to the long rule of the country's president, 74, who critics say is out of touch with a youthful population.

His case has drawn international attention with scores of musicians, activists and politicians signing an open letter condemning his treatment by the government.

Monday's 3,500 word Facebook post was Mr Kyagulanyi's first public statement since his arrest.

"I was shocked on how they tried to downplay the atrocities committed by security agencies on innocent citizens," he said.