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US Pair Facing Uganda 'Torture' Charges Bailed

FILE: U.S. couple Nicholas Spencer and his wife Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer, both 32, charged with torturing a 10-year old John Kayima, sit in a courtroom as they were freed on bail by a court in Kampala, Uganda, March 22, 2023.

KAMPALA - A U.S. couple detained in Uganda since December accused of torturing a 10-year-old boy in their care was granted bail on Wednesday by a court in the capital Kampala.

Nicholas Spencer and his wife Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer, both 32 and from South Carolina, were initially charged with aggravated torture and aggravated child trafficking of a boy they had fostered and were living with in Kampala.

Since their arrest they have also been charged with overstaying a visa and working without a permit, their lawyer, David Mpanga, told Reuters.

In their bail application the couple said they had medical conditions which could not be adequately treated while in jail.

On Wednesday the court's judge, Isaac Muwata, agreed, saying their conditions could not be reasonably treated while in prison.

He ordered them to pay cash bail of 50 million Ugandan shillings ($13,000) each, and prohibited them from leaving the country.

Prosecutors have accused the couple of having recruited, transported and kept the child through "abuse of position of vulnerability for purposes of exploitation", according to the charge sheet.

The offence of aggravated torture of a child in Uganda carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The couple, who have lived in Uganda in 2017 have plead not guilty to all the charges.

The date of their trial has not been set yet.