Burundian comedian released after arrest for mocking president

A Burundian comedian was released Friday after four days in custody for making fun of President Pierre Nkurunziza, sources of the intelligence service and the comedian's family said.

An intelligence source said Alfred Aubin Mugenzi, known as Gigingi, was released provisionally and would be have to return for questioning on April 30.

The source, who did not want to be named, did not give more details.

Mugenzi was advertising a beer brand in Muramvya in central Burundi when he was detained on Tuesday. The 30-year-old was taken to the premises of the intelligence service in the capital Bujumbura, according to the intelligence source.

The source denied reports that the comedian had been tied up for the journey to the capital.

Mugenzi mocked Nkurunziza during a show in neighbouring Rwanda in June last year, joking the president had received two yellow cards in a football game but refused to leave the pitch.

A video of the show has now started circulating on social media, where it has become very popular.

Mugenzi's joke was referring to Nkurunziza's determination to seek a third term in office despite the constitutional two-term limit.

The president's announcement of his plans and his subsequent election victory in July triggered a wave of protests, police repression and opposition attacks that have claimed more than 400 lives so far.

Mugenzi was held on charges of insulting the president, according to the intelligence source.

The arrest sparked concern that the comedian could be tortured or even killed, as has happened to other detainees, according to human rights groups.

Mugenzi's family called on the authorities to acquit him and said he was "an innocent person who only did his job."

Last update: Fri, 01/04/2016 - 17:59
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