Law professor and international criminal defense lawyer Peter Erlinder arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, on Monday, May 23, 2010, to prepare the defense of FDU Inkingi presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.
After Erlinder's arrival, Ingabire was summoned to appear at a Rwandan police station in Rwanda's capitol, Kigali, on Friday, May 28th, after which authorities moved the date up to Thursday, May 27th. Many of her supporters fear that she may be arrested for speaking to the press. "We're afraid that Mrs. Ingabire will be arrested again tomorrow," said Jean Manirarora, a Rwandan medical research scientist now living in the U.S. "If she is, then we hope the international community will join us in calling for her release, and for free and fair elections in Rwanda."
Ingabire returned to Kigali in January to contest this year's Rwandan presidential election, as the candidate of the FDU-Inkingi coalition of political parties, but now, four months later, she still has not been able to register either her party or her candidacy. Instead she has been arrested and charged with "associating with terrorists" and "genocide ideology," a statutory speech crime unique to Rwanda, which critics including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and even the U.S. State Department have criticized as a tool of political repression.
Peter Erlinder spoke to reporters at the Second International Criminal Defense Lawyers' Conference in Brussels, on Sunday, May 22nd, before flying to Kigali the next day.