Sun, Apr 03, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Comedian locked up after show ‘insulting’ president

AFP, NAIROBI

A popular Burundian comedian known as “Kigingi” was arrested this week after poking fun at the president, the comedian’s family said on Friday.

Humorist and Buja FM radio host Alfred Aubin Mugenzi was arrested on Tuesday evening by Burundi’s National Intelligence Service (SNR) and charged with insulting Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.

He was apprehended at a hotel in Muramvya, 50km east of the capital, while on a promotional tour for a beer company.

“He was transferred to Bujumbura and is being held in the SNR dungeons, but no one has been allowed to see him,” said a concerned relative, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions.

The relative said Mugenzi’s family fears that the funny man might suffer the same fate as others taken by the SNR, who rights groups say are commonly tortured.

Many have been reported to have died in jail.

SNR officers told the relative that Mugenzi was arrested “for contempt of the head of state” after a skit he performed in Rwanda last year in which he lampooned soccer-mad third-term Nkurunziza, showing him refusing to leave the pitch despite receiving two yellow cards.

Nkurunziza’s refusal to stand down after two terms and instead run for a controversial third mandate last year triggered bloody unrest, a failed military coup and months of violence that has killed hundreds of people and driven a quarter of a million to flee the country.

An intelligence official confirmed Mugenzi’s arrest saying the comic routine was “insulting the president.”

“He will soon be released, this time,” the official said.

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