Rwandan Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga vows to summon American Lawyer Erlinder at all costs
Peter Erlinder – the American lawyer and Professor of Law who was jailed by Kagame regime last year for genocide denial when he went to Rwanda to defend opposition politician Victoire Ingabire – still bears the scars of his traumatic experience in Rwanda jail. He has been so scared and traumatised that he didn’t even dare to go back to Tanzania (Rwanda’s neighbour hosting the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) to the defend his client Aloys Ntabakuze. This prompted the ICTR last month to sanction him and bar him from the tribunal as defense counsel.
Now, Rwanda Prosecutor fuels Erlinder’s anxiety further by announcing that he still intends to summon him to Rwandan court. He warns him not to try to ‘jump bail’ !
Kigali — Rwanda will issue summons to the controversial American lawyer, Peter Erlinder, to face charges related to Genocide denial and revisionism, when the appropriate time comes.
Addressing a news conference on Monday the Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, said that the America lawyer, who was last month banned by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will some day have his day in court to answer the charges.
Ngoga emphasised that nothing will deter the Prosecution from pursuing Erlinder and that his case will not end anywhere else or by any other means but rather in the courtroom because there are no plans to abandon the case or drop the charges.
“He was released on bail and he remains on bail. We have since continued our investigations to strengthen our case and get ourselves ready to institute a substantive case against him,” Ngoga said.
“The fact that we haven’t filed or the fact that we haven’t summoned him to come back here is one that depends mainly on our priorities and not on our readiness. We are ready and we are just looking at the appropriate time,” he added
The Prosecutor General pointed out that whether Erlinder responds or not, was a matter within his reach, but warned that mechanisms that deal with people who jump bail do exist and will be applied on him, including issuing Interpol with an alert.
Ngoga said that in the “near future” when prosecution is ready with the case, Erlinder will be issued with a notice and the public will be informed as well.
The Prosecutor General further said that even with his recent downfall with the ICTR, Erlinder continues to peddle allegations about Rwanda, referring to him as an “attention seeker” who has failed to score credit in his profession as a lawyer.
“We are not party of the decision against him by ICTR. He just remains to be an attention seeker. Somebody who having failed to gain professional credits in the court where he was supposed to practice,” Ngoga said.
“He is instead continuing to make up stories to remain in the headlines. We rather think professionalism could be acquired in lecture rooms where he teaches and in the courtroom where he practices, not through blogs and other avenues in the media,” he added.
Ngoga said that the falsehoods created by Erlinder constitute his lack of professionalism which the ICTR sanctioned him for, noting that his conduct will, however, not stop the case from proceeding.
Erlinder, who was arrested in May last year and later released on bail, is facing charges of Genocide denial and minimising the 1994 Genocide. He was granted bail on “medical and humanitarian grounds.”
In a related case, Ngoga announced that the case involving Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the leader of the yet-to-be-registered party FDU-Inkingi, will go into substance beginning May 16.
Ngoga said that despite some countries failing to cooperate or acting slowly in submitting the evidence Rwanda requested for, there is quite enough evidence collected by the prosecution to allow the case to proceed.
He noted that among the countries that cooperated include Holland, where her house was searched and one witness who gave “very critical” information to the case was interviewed. Others include Burundi and D.R Congo.
Ngoga noted that the evidence obtained from foreign jurisdiction, including Holland, where Ingabire and her family have lived for 16 years, makes the allegations that her case is a political, baseless.