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article imageRwandan judge sends Minnesota's Professor Erlinder back to jail Special

By Ann Garrison     Jun 7, 2010 in Politics
Minnesota Law Professor and international criminal lawyer Peter Erlinder has gone back to jail in Kigali, Rwanda, where he was arrested on May 28th. A Rwandan judge denied bail on Monday afternoon.
Erlinder's friends, family, and supporters had awaited the decision all weekend. Some responded in shock; others called the ruling predictable because Erlinder's critique of the received history of the Rwanda Genocide, the Congo War, and U.S. and U.K. involvement, threatens too many powerful people.
The Minnesota law professor traveled to Rwanda to defend embattled presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza against what he called trumped up charges, including "genocide ideology," a speech crime unique to Rwanda which he is now accused of as well.
Just before flying there, Erlinder spoke about what he considered distortions in the received history of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide and its aftermath, at the Second International Criminal Defense Lawyers' Conference in Brussels, Belgium.
The Rwandan News Agency reported the judge's ruling on Monday afternoon in Kigali. Judge Morris Mbishibishi, who handed down the ruling, is the same Gasabo Intermediate Court judge who, on Friday, postponed ruling until today.
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza  presidential candidate of Rwanda s FDU-Inkingi Party  whom Peter Erlnder ...
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, presidential candidate of Rwanda's FDU-Inkingi Party, whom Peter Erlnder flew to Rwanda to defend against charges he is now facing himself. She has been warned that she will be arrested again if she continues to speak to the press, and now her Rwandan lawyer, Theogene Muhayeyezu, has been arrested as well.
FDU-Inkingi Party
KPFA Radio News reported on the case, and the pending decision on Sunday, June 6th. To listen click here.
The U.S. State Department has called for Erlinder's release on humanitarian grounds, but not because he has a right to freedom of speech, as Professor Erlinder and his lawyers have insisted. Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed to Commonwealth countries, and Rwanda became a member of the Commonwealth in November 2009.
Erlinder is also a U.S. citizen in a nation, Rwanda, supported with hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S.assistance annually. Many of his supporters have thus argued that the U.S. State Department could and should, as a donor nation, insist on his release. Others have said that the State Department is not likely to want to see Professor Erlinder released because, if he is, he will continue to criticize its recent history and that of the Pentagon in Rwanda, with the support of evidence collected in his The Rwanda Documents Project.
Erlinder's American lawyer Kurt Kerns said, "We lost and obviously we're gravely disappointed. We're working on the best appeal we can right now."
Erlinder's defense team includes two Kenyan lawyers, and one Rwandan.
The Rwanda News Agency also reported that Erlinder will be eligible to appeal in five days.
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