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ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

RWANDA

28 May 2010

American Lawyer

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Peter Erlinder

Arrested By Rwandan Police.

 He is charged with genocide denial.

 

UPDATE 17 June 2010 : released on bail by the Rwandan High Court on on medical grounds.

 

Source :

 

 

 

Peter Erlinder , an American lawyer helping defend a Rwandan presidential hopeful against charges that include promoting a genocidal ideology was arrested  and charged with genocide denial. Chief prosecutor Martin Ngoga said he had been arrested for remarks made in publications and statements.

Peter Erlinder is the president of an association of defense lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that is trying the masterminds of the 1994 genocide. He is also a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a frequent litigator or consultant, often pro bono, in cases involving the death penalty, civil rights, claims of government and police misconduct, and criminal defense of political activists. He is also a frequent news commentator.

Peter Erlinder is the lead defence counsel for top genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. He had arrived in Kigali to help defend opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, 41,  who was charged with promoting genocide ideology last month.

Ms Ingabire, an ethnic Hutu, returned to Rwanda in January to contest elections after 16 years of living abroad. She says she returned to Rwanda because the country needs an open discussion to promote reconciliation. She immediately visited a memorial to Tutsis killed in the 1994 genocide and asked why Hutus who also died weren't remembered. She was arrested for allegedly propagating genocide ideology after she called for action to be taken against those responsible for killing Hutus during the 1994 conflict. She was freed on bail but her passport was seized and she was banned from leaving the capital, Kigali. She could be sentenced to more than two decades in prison if convicted. Ms Ingabire, who leads the Unified Democratic Forces party, has previously said she had been harassed since returning from exile in January.

Rwanda's 1994 genocide claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The massacres ended when mostly Tutsi rebels led by Kagame defeated the mostly Hutu extremist perpetrators.

Kagame has been lauded abroad for social and economic reforms and is expected to win another seven-year term but human rights groups say his administration has an ironclad hold on power and quashes opposing views.

IDHAE requests the immediate release of Professor Peter Erlinder and that all charges against him be dropped.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson has accused the Kigali government of restricting the legal defense of Victoire Ingabire, an opposition leader running against President Paul Kagame in the  9 August presidential election, in which Ms Ingabire was a challenger.

There can be no justice for anyone if the state can silence lawyers for defendants whom it dislikes and a government that seeks to prevent lawyers from being vigorous advocates for their clients cannot be trusted.

 

 

 

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