Private Allan Barigye, the UPDF soldier who swore an affidavit in defense of Kizza Besigye's presidential election petition, is being kept in a safe house in Kampala, the Forum for Democratic Change claims.
FDC spokesperson, Wafula Oguttu, told journalists in Kampala that the party received an SOS message from Barigye that he is being held in a safe house in Kololo. The safe house is allegedly located in between the Danish and Congolese embassies.
Barigye was detained by the army authorities two months, shortly after the conclusion of a case in which FDC president, Kizza Besigye, challenged the results of February's presidential elections.
In his affidavit, Barigye said that he and other soldiers from the UPDF Second Division barracks in Mbarara were instructed on how to rig the elections. He said senior army officers gave them pre-ticked ballot papers that they were to use to vote in President Yoweri Museveni's favor.
Oguttu called Barigye a political prisoner, who he said is being persecuted by government for his support for the opposition.
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Wafula appealed to the Army Commander, Aronda Nyakairima, to release Barigye immediately. He said if Barigye is not released, the FDC will start a nationwide campaign to secure the soldier's freedom.
The FDC presented to the media, Patrick Ssentongo, a man who claims he was arrested and tortured by security officers for his support for the FDC. Ssentongo said he was picked up from his home, detained in a safe house and tortured systematically for three weeks until the security officials had no more use for him.
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The 23-year-old Ssentongo claimed to have seen Barigye at the safe house. He was released on Thursday last week on a police bond of 500,000 shillings. He is charged with treason.
The army spokesperson, Major Felix Kulayigye, confirmed that the army is holding Barigye and says he will be charged with desertion. Brushing aside claims that the army officer is being held in a safe house, saying the practice of operating safe houses is common practice around the world. He denied allegatiosn that Barigye has been tortured in detention.
forum for democratic change