Rwanda: Prof. Erlinder took overdose pills as a strategy to leave jail
Rwandan police had announced on Wednesday that jailed lawyer Peter Erlinder had tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of his medication. (see Jailed american lawyer Erlinder in ‘remorse state’ and “ready to retract his statements in writing and never return to Rwanda” ).
But he told consular officials that he took an overdose of his prescription medicine so he would be sent from a squalid jail to a hospital.
The message from law professor Peter Erlinder of St. Paul, Minn., was conveyed from the consulate in Rwanda to his family, who said Thursday they understood his actions to be part of an effort to escape a jail cell where he feared for his safety and was staying with seven or eight other inmates.
At the same time, the Rwandan police spokesperson reversed their initial statement and said on Thursday that they “regret the baseless statements aired yesterday on Peter’s attempt suicide… It was wrong because it did not happen”.
Also, the US State Department on Thursday has called on the Rwandan government to release professor Erlinder on “compassionate grounds”.
Erlinder was arrested on Friday in Rwanda on allegations he denied the 1994 Rwandan genocide.