Prof. Peter Erlinder’s arbitrary arrest by Rwandan authorities is a shame — Rwandinfo_ENG
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Prof. Peter Erlinder’s arbitrary arrest by Rwandan authorities is a shame

We are saddened to witness powerlessly the arrest and arbitrary detention of Professor Peter Erlinder, the lead council of Ms. Victoire Ingabire, in Kigali on 28th May 2010. He was arrested by Rwandan authorities while he was working on the case of the Chair of FDU-Inkingi who is accused of genocide ideology and collaboration with a Rwandan terrorist group. He is accused of genocide ideology as well.

It is our highest duty to raise the serious concern about the impossibility of fair trial as the cases of Ms. Victoire Ingabire and Professor Peter Erlinder are concerned.

The arrest of the lead defence council of an opposition leader and a presidential candidate deepens the political crisis as the August 2010 presidential elections loom. This happens only a few days after an abusive statement of President Kagame boasting his upper hand on the Rwandan judiciary, and echoing his chief Prosecutor’s public statements that there is overwhelming evidence that Ms. Victoire is guilty. Curiously, they don’t transfer their final charges to a Court of law.

“The fact that this disinformation campaign originates from the highest levels of the Rwandan government was confirmed by President Kagame’s lengthy comments to the Monitor on May 23, 2010 in which he personally inserted himself directly in the legal case against the opposition leader, despite the fact that the case had been initiated by the Kagame administration’s Chief Prosecutor Ngoga, and which will be heard by courts that are dependent upon the Kagame administration for their appointment and tenure”.

A fair trial is being violated because international lawyers would fear that their motions will lead to indictments being issued against them for ideology of genocide.

In the eyes of this controversial Rwandan law on ideology of genocide, the defence or testimony to show the truth about the killings in Rwanda before, during and after the genocide would be taken as a proof of negation of the genocide. Then, the lawyers, experts’ witnesses and factual witnesses would fear the intimidation and threats to be arrested because of their positions to portray different views from Kagame’s regime.

These threats to be arrested raise the concerns of possibility of fair trial since the lawyers and experts would fear to give evidences about the truth expressed by Ms. Victoire Ingabire when she arrived in Rwanda mentioning that the Rwandan nation has to pay homage to all the victims of the tragedy without considering their ethnic backgrounds.

The arrest of Professor Peter Erlinder is not consistent with the freedom of fair trial and juridical representation since it tends to be extended to any lawyer who will come to defend the case.

Considering the whole dimension of this biased legal environment, threats, intimidation and frequent presidential interferences, I have informed the Prosecutor during today’s criminal interrogation that I will recourse, with immediate effect, to my right to remain silent until proper court hearings start.

Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

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