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Ugandan Opposition Leader Charged With Two Counts of Treason

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye has appeared in court to face charges of treason and rape. Meanwhile, protests over his arrest continued Tuesday in the capital, Kampala.

Reporter Barbara Among -- who was at the magistrate’s court -- told reporter William Eagle that Mr. Besigye was charged with treason, concealment of treason, and rape. The charge of treason is based on the allegation that he directly participated in attempts to overthrow the government by making contacts with the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army and allegedly helping recruit for the People’s Redemption Army. The prosecution also says he “concealed” treason – by failing to report to authorities that 22 other accused Ugandans had held meetings to plot the overthrow of the government.

Ms. Among explains that the rape charge stems from accusations made by a young woman, Joanita Kyakuwa, who used to live with Mr. Besigye and his wife. In court today, it was claimed that in 1997, the defendant raped her and paid for her to have an abortion. She also claims that he infected her with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Ms. Kyakuwa did not, however, report the alleged assault to authorities until 2003. Reporter Barbara Among says Mr. Besigye laughed when he heard the allegations in court.

Ms. Among says he returns to court tomorrow when Mr. Besigye is expected to apply for bail.