KIGALI - Police yesterday arrested Peter Erlinder, the controversial American lawyer on charges of denying Genocide.
Erlinder, arrived in the country to defend Victoire Ingabire, the embattled leader of the yet-to-be-registered political party, FDU-Inkingi.
Ingabire is facing charges of associating with a terrorist group, propagating the Genocide ideology, revisionism and ethnic division.
According to the Police Spokesperson, Supt Eric Kayiranga, Erlinder was arrested Friday morning, four days after arriving in Kigali.
“He was arrested on charges of Genocide denial…Erlinder has publicly declared that there was no Genocide in Rwanda. He will be presented before courts of law so that he can answer charges against him,” Kayiranga said.
Kayiranga added that law No.18/2008 of July 23 punishes whoever engages in Genocide revisionism and Genocide ideology.
Speaking to The New Times, Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, said that the Lawyer’s arrest had nothing to do with his plans to represent Ingabire.
“Peter Erlinder’s arrest is purely on matters regarding him and has nothing to do with his intention to represent Ingabire,” Ngoga said.
“He has been a staunch denier and revisionist, and these are clearly punishable in Rwanda, where he willingly and provocatively decided to come.
He graduated from being a denier himself to being a mobiliser and spokesperson for other deniers outside the courtroom”.
Erlinder arrived straight from Brussels where he had helped organise a conference that brought together renown Genocide revisionists and indicted Genocide suspects, among them, Eugene Rwamucyo, who was, shortly after the conference, arrested by the French authorities on charges of Genocide
Rwamucyo is now in custody in Paris awaiting extradition proceedings.
Another prominent revisionist and member of this group, Belgian professor Filip Reyntjens, surprisingly chose to abstain from the meeting at the last minute.
“...the conference (The International Criminal Defence Conference) is one-sided ... it offers a platform to people who want to settle political scores, including at least one genocide suspect,” Reyntjens said in an email to The New Times.
Though he pulled out of the conference, the paper he was supposed to present; “Manipulation and falsification of ICTR evidence: The role of the Rwandan government”, was posted on the group’s website.
“The decision by Reyntjens to denounce the Brussels conference is, apart from being a surprise given Reyntjen’s own record, a logical result of any grouping that comes together without any legitimate cause,” said Ngoga.
Peter Erlinder was the lead defence counsel for Major Aloys Ntabakuze, former commander of the Para-Commando Battalion in Kanombe during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Ntabakuze was found guilty of Genocide and war crimes and sentenced to life in prison.
Legal sources in Arusha, have revealed that despite being Ntabakize’s lead defence counsel, this was Erlinder’s first time to come to Rwanda as he has always sent his associates during the course of the trial.
The date for his initial appearance in court is not yet known.