KIGALI - The Embattled American lawyer Peter Erlinder was yesterday remanded by the Intermediate Court of Gasabo on grounds of “serious indices of culpability” in his case of genocide denial and spreading rumours that threaten state security.
Judge Maurice Mbishibishi yesterday said that court found the reasons presented by prosecution very serious and could not permit Erlinder to continue with the case outside detention and that his defence failed to convince court that his poor health is linked to his stay in detention.
“Court has decided that Carl Peter Erlinder be provisionally detained for 30 days on grounds of serious reasons that link him to the charges levelled against him by prosecution,”
“All crimes related to Genocide denial and threatening state security are serious offences punished by law with considerable sentences. Court also found no link between Erlinder’s health and his stay in detention.
He will therefore be provisionally detained for 30 days, he ruled, reminding the accused that this decision can be appealed against within five days.
Last Friday during the preliminary hearing, Erlinder had pleaded not guilty of all charges levelled against him which include denying and trivialising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and spreading rumours that threaten state security.
Erlinder, who looked healthier than he was on Friday held his chin and momentarily closed his eyes as the judge pronounced the verdict of his bail hearing.
He had told court on Friday that he was not aware that his “obscure” publications back in America could be tantamount to genocide denial or even threaten the country’s security and that he was in ill health and needed urgent treatment.
He pleaded to the judge to conditionally release him and allow him to travel back to the United States for appropriate treatment as his health was deteriorating but prosecution insists he should be provisionally detained as investigations into his case continue.
According to Mbishibishi, Erlinder and his legal team failed to provide the necessary medical reports indicating a linkage between his detention which occurred on May 28 and his ill state.
“The medical report which Erlinder presented to court only shows that he was hospitalised twice but it does not convince court that his hospitalisation was a result of detention,” Mbishibishi said.
His defence immediately announced they would appeal which means that the case will now be heard by the High Court. Efforts to get a comment from the defence were futile as defence lawyers refused to say anything regarding the verdict.
Erlinder had on Friday told court that he was undergoing an emotional and psychological breakdown.
Last week he reportedly feigned a suicide attempt by mixing over 50 tablets in water which he supposedly drunk but doctors found that he had not taken the mixture.
The Judge told Erlinder, that his continued denial and trivialisation of the genocide is a serious offence that is punishable by the laws of the land.
It was also said that Erlinder’s explicit publications urging Rwandans to stand up against a ‘genocidaire ruler’ and his continued accusations on President Paul Kagame triggering the genocide by downing the plane of the former President Juvenal Habyarimana were baseless and tantamount to causing state insecurity.
He referred to a number of documents and books where Erlinder puts the word genocide in inverted commas or prefers to call what happened in Rwanda as “terrible massacres”, “horrific events”, “massive civilian killings”, “civilian-civilian massacres”.