Rwanda Information Portal

Law prof. Peter Erlinder jailed in Rwanda hospitalized after signs of illness

by Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio

Prof. Peter Erlinder

Prof. Peter Erlinder

St. Paul, Minn. — Friends and family members of St. Paul law professor Peter Erlinder say he was taken to a hospital in Rwanda Monday after showing signs of illness following a police interrogation.

The medical attention came on Erlinder’s fourth day of detention in a Rwandan jail. Last Friday, authorities locked up the well-known activist lawyer for allegedly spreading what are considered illegal views on the African country’s genocide.

It’s still unclear whether Erlinder will return to jail and face charges.

A fellow American lawyer who is in Rwanda fighting for Erlinder’s release said the professor’s jail stay appears to be aggravating his health conditions, including high blood pressure. Kurt Kerns said two defense attorneys from Kenya demanded the medical intervention on Erlinder’s behalf.

“They’re like, ‘We’re done with this interrogation. He doesn’t look good. His blood pressure is high. We want him taken to a local hospital.’ The local authorities complied,” Kerns said.

Kerns said Erlinder will probably return to jail if and when a doctor approves. He said before Erlinder was whisked away to the hospital, Rwandan police asked Erlinder seven questions. While Kerns said he can’t disclose the nature of the inquiry, he called the case against Erlinder, in his words, “pathetic.”

“They did give us a glimpse as to what their accusations are, but we walked out with a pretty optimistic view of how ridiculously weak the charges are,” Kerns said.

Rwandan authorities kicked Kerns out of the police interrogation because they said Kerns didn’t have the proper credentials to represent Erlinder.

Erlinder teaches at St. Paul’s William Mitchell College of Law and has been a pointed critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Erlinder is in Rwanda to defend a presidential challenger against charges of promoting genocidal ideology.

Rwanda’s genocide in 1994 killed more than 500,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The massacres ended when mostly Tutsi rebels led by Kagame defeated the Hutus.

Erlinder’s wife, Masako Usui said her husband never denied that the massacre took place. But she said he has taken issue with the government’s explanation as to how it came about, and that he thinks there was plenty of blame to go around. Now, some Rwandans have called her husband a “conspiracy terrorist.”

“It says they don’t care about human rights,” Usui said. “They don’t care about a bill of rights. So, I’m getting more and more angry.”

Usui said Erlinder has high cholesterol and is running out of medication. Some of Erlinder’s allies in Rwanda have even warned her that the jailers may try to poison his food.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Monday morning that there’s no indication Erlinder was jailed for any reason other than representing his client. She said she has expressed her concerns to the U.S. State Department.

“I know their focus is on his fair treatment and that the process moves fairly and quickly, so we’re giving every [piece of] information to the highest levels of the embassy,” Klobuchar said. “Our hope is that there will be some kind of hearing either today, tomorrow, or Wednesday, and hopefully he can be at least released out of jail.”

But Klobuchar said she doesn’t know whether Erlinder will be able to come home anytime soon, as he works his way through Rwanda’s struggling judicial system.

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May 31, 2010   No Comments

“I want these damn cuffs off me”, Peter Erlinder in Rwanda jail

“I want my lawyer. I want to call my embassy, and I want these damn cuffs of me.” This is the request made by Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s American lawyer, Prof. Peter Erlinder to Rwandan authorities.

KPFA Radio News reported on the arrest of Rwandan Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s American lawyer.
[wpaudio url=”http://www.thepriceofuranium.com/images/mp3s/kpfanews-erlinderarrest-anngarrison.mp3″ text=”KPFA News: Rwanda arrests Peter Erlinder” dl=”0″]
(KPFA Radio News – Sunday evening, May 30,2010).

In the meantime, the official position of Rwanda Governement as stated by Minister of Foreign Affairs Mushikiwabo is clear:
– “Mr. Erlinder is a conspiracy theorist”
– Mr. Erlinder and Victoire Ingabire are “reckless publicity seekers and genocide deniers” whose “provocative actions and statements” have
“the potential to undercut the legitimacy of Rwanda’s electoral process.”
– “Entering Rwanda was a brazen act of provocation”
– “Mr. Erlinder’s arrest is an act of justice.”

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May 31, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda Statement on the Arrest of Ingabire’s Lawyer Peter Erlinder

Correction!
Actually, Professor Peter Erlinder entered Rwanda on Sunday May 23, 2010 and not on May 27 as claimed in this statement!

Kigali – US Attorney, C. Peter Erlinder, claiming to be a lawyer representing Victoire Ingabire, entered Rwanda on 27 May 2010, and was arrested by authorities under the country’s genocide ideology laws the following day, on 28 May. Ingabire stands accused of having ties to FDLR, a UN-listed terrorist group that advocates the resumption of the Rwandan genocide that was brought to an end in 1994.

According to Rwanda’s Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, “Mr. Erlinder’s unapologetic violation of these laws is self-evident.
He has continually engaged in conspiracy theories and denial surrounding the circumstances of the genocide.
He has promulgated this dangerous and distorted fiction over many years.
Entering Rwanda was a brazen act of provocation, since Erlinder must clearly understand he is in breach of the laws of our country
.”

“Mr. Erlinder and Ms. Ingabire claim their intention is to support her opposition candidacy for President,” said Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson. “However, Ms. Ingabire is not registered as a candidate.
Moreover, the provocative actions and statements of she and Mr. Erlinder seem more a naked public relations ploy than a serious effort to engage in an election or a debate on democracy.
This would be upsetting in and of itself, but is particularly disturbing because it has the potential to undercut the legitimacy of Rwanda’s electoral process.”

Rwanda experienced a bloody genocide in the 1990s. Part of the country’s enormously successful recovery has included ensuring that the kinds of propaganda and reckless innuendo that helped to cause the genocide can never be repeated.
Like its counterparts in Europe, who adopted legal principles to ensure no repeat of the holocaust, Rwanda has adopted similar laws.

“Unfortunately, reckless publicity seekers and genocide deniers are using the upcoming election process to further their agendas with little attention to the great harm they are causing.” continued Ms. Mushikiwabo.
“Our goal is not to tamp down opposing viewpoints and freedom of speech. It is to protect the safety, security and integrity of Rwanda’s democratic electoral process.
Publicity seekers and genocide deniers engaged in publicity stunts do nothing to promote Rwandan stability but instead seek to destabilize the country for personal gain.
We believe the actions of Mr. Erlinder could have precisely that effect.
Rather than letting the world witness the progress of Rwanda, they are instead treated to a smokescreen that is not remotely rooted in the reality of Rwanda and the daily lives of its citizens.”

KPFA Radio News reported on the arrest of Rwandan Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s American lawyer.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.thepriceofuranium.com/images/mp3s/kpfanews-erlinderarrest-anngarrison.mp3″ text=”KPFA News: Rwanda arrests Peter Erlinder” dl=”0″]
(KPFA Radio News – Sunday evening, May 30,2010).

“Mr. Erlinder’s claims that he is here to represent Victoire Ingabire do not stand up to scrutiny”, said Ms. Mushikiwabo.
“He is not registered to practice law in Rwanda, and has made no attempts to do so. It is clear to any observer that he is not here to practice law at all, but to promote himself and his dangerous causes.
In our opinion, Mr. Erlinder is a conspiracy theorist who seeks to willfully promote his extremist views on Rwandan soil — and we will not permit this.
We understand that human rights activists schooled in the US Bill of Rights may find this objectionable. But for Rwandans — schooled in the tragedy of the 1994 genocide and who long for peace – Mr. Erlinder’s arrest is an act of justice.”

Contacts:
Republic of Rwanda
Louise Mushikiwabo, +250 78830 5218
Office of the Government Spokesperson
lmushikiwabo@gov.rw
www.minaffet.gov.rw

Source: businesswire.

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May 31, 2010   1 Comment

Rwandans deny access to jailed american lawyer Peter Erlinder

Rwandans deny access to jailed St. Paul attorney

A member of a lawyers’ group calling for his release said Peter Erlinder may get a court date today.

The attorneys who were allowed to visit with jailed St. Paul attorney Peter Erlinder on Saturday in Rwanda were denied access to him Sunday, his daughter said.

KPFA Radio News reported on the arrest of Rwandan Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s American lawyer.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.thepriceofuranium.com/images/mp3s/kpfanews-erlinderarrest-anngarrison.mp3″ text=”KPFA News: Rwanda arrests Peter Erlinder” dl=”0″]
(KPFA Radio News – Sunday evening, May 30,2010).

Calling it a troubling development, Sarah Erlinder, an Arizona attorney, said the lawyers were barred from seeing her father a day after they had been granted a visit. Apparently, a Rwandan jail official “yelled” at jail employees who granted attorneys access on Saturday.

It seems that official could not be reached Saturday, Sarah Erlinder said, and could not block the visit. However, she said, the jail official was reachable Sunday — and not very happy.

Sarah Erlinder said the attorneys who visited her father — one American and one Rwandan — reported that he appeared to be in good health and in good spirits. That was a relief, she said, “because then we could concentrate on the larger issue of getting him out.”

It is not clear if access to her father will continue to be blocked, she said.

Alison Turner, a board member of the International Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, said Sunday that Erlinder may get his first hearing on Monday.

Erlinder, 62, is in Rwanda to help defend presidential hopeful Victoire Ingabire against charges of promoting genocidal ideology. He was arrested by the Rwandan police Friday. Ingabire is running against Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the Aug 9 elections. More than 500,000 people died during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

JAMES WALSH – startribune.com

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May 31, 2010   No Comments