Rwanda arrests U.S. lawyer for genocide denial

KIGALI Fri May 28, 2010 12:46pm EDT

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KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwandan authorities arrested U.S. lawyer Peter Erlinder Friday over allegations of denying the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were slaughtered, police and the chief prosecutor said.

Erlinder flew into the central African country one week ago to defend aspiring presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, who was herself arrested and released on bail in April over accusations of belonging to a terrorist group and promoting genocide ideology.

"He was arrested this morning. He said that there was no genocide in Rwanda, that no Tutsis were killed by Hutus," said police spokesman Eric Kayiranga.

Ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were the targets of the 100-day massacre in 1994 at the hands of Hutu authorities.

Chief prosecutor Martin Ngoga told Reuters Erlinder was arrested for remarks made in publications and statements, but could not immediately cite specific comments.

Under a 2003 law, persons condemned for denying or grossly minimizing genocide, attempting to justify genocide or destroy evidence related to it are liable to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 in prison.

The U.S. embassy in the capital Kigali confirmed the arrest of Erlinder, who works as the lead defense counsel for top genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania.

The arrest comes days after the U.S. government expressed concerns about freedom of expression in the country ahead of August presidential polls, following similar criticism by international rights groups.

Rwanda has denied allegations of muzzling independent media and using anti-genocide legislation to crack down on emerging opposition parties.

"In a period of months, the Government of Rwanda has suspended two newspapers, revoked the work permit and denied the visa of a Human Rights Watch researcher, and arrested (and subsequently released on bail) opposition leader Victoire Ingabire," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said Tuesday.

In April, Erlinder filed a lawsuit in the United States alleging that current Rwandan President Paul Kagame ordered the shooting down of a plane carrying then-leader Juvenal Habyarimana, an event that triggered the bloodshed 16 years ago.

Earlier this year a Rwandan investigation pinned the assassination on Habyarimana's own troops.

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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Comments (3)
sgasana wrote:
Three truth:
1. It is true that President Kagame is a dictator and a terrible suppressor of freedom of speech.
2. It is true that Victoire Ingabire is innocent.
3. It is also true that Professor Peter Erlinder is a Tutsi genocide denier. Professor Erlinder was arrested by a wrong man, Kagame, a person with terrible human right records, but Erlinder is guilt of denying the genocide according to Rwandan Law.
I was chocked by his writing about the genocide. His ideas of negating the genocide are truly dangerous and betray a mind obscured by hatred against Kagame Government. He fails to distinguish the government led by Kagame, a Tutsi and the poor Tutsi ethnic group victim of the genocide.
I think he is another victim of the “Rwandan ethnic manipulation” a trap so many foreigners have fallen into whenever they get deeply involved in Rwandan issues. They get brainwashed by either Tutsi or Hutu extremists discourse of hatred to the point they irrationally and blindly support the Tutsi and the Hutu. Professor Erlinder has sadly fallen into the trap of Hutu extremists to the point he looses credibility of a neutral lawyer.

I urge Kagame to release him immediately. I ask also ask the immediate release Madame Ingabire and all other political prisoners. Moreover I also ask professor Erlinder to avoid the company of Rwandan extremists of all walks. He needs to consult and work with moderate Rwandese able share with him the true balance truth about Rwanda history.
He needs to ask the victims of the genocide to forgive him of negating the Tutsi genocide.

May 28, 2010 5:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
duniaka wrote:
Comment about this three truth:
The writer of these three truths has definitely some knowledge about Kagame and Rwanda,

However accusing Professor Peter Erlinder of denying tutsi genocide is discussible. Why? When you talk about genocide in Rwanda, it is paramount to know that uncountable number of hutu was killed as well. Some were killed by Interahamwe and most of them were killed by RPF and kagame solders. And when you you talk about tutsi genocide, you find so many people who disagree with you because they lost their loves ones in genocide in Rwanda and they are not tutsi. These people have right to say Rwanda genocide rather than tutsi genocide and when they say so, Kagame wrogly consider them as genocide denial, which is not true

You should understand that when Mr. Peter Erlinder says that kagame was involved in this genocide is not denying genocide because there evidences to prove that including the shooting down of the president air plane which is the starting point of the genocide.

I would rather say Rwanda genocide than tutsi genocide, this is because all tribes in Rwanda have been affected some of its members killed due to the same genocide and not only tutsi.

I don’t think Professor Peter denies Rwanda genocide but he has right to say that in this genocide some hutu and foreigners were killed as well.but according to rwanda goverment, this is denial of genocide.

When you talk about tutsi genocide , you just express the new RPF views or system of denying that some were killed during this genocide. When you are neutral you can say:
a)Rwanda genocide because different tribes hutu, tutsi, twa and foreigners such as Spanish, Belgium, French nationals who were working in Rwanda at that time were killed and there are many evidence of that.

b) If you talk about tutsi genocide, agree with the notion of double genocide. because many hutu were killed as well are not found in tutsi genocide and we cannot ignore that(ask Rwanda people) By this, you mean that Rwanda genocide (RG)equal tutsi genocide (TG)plus hutu genocide (HT)and plus some foreigners (x)killed in Rwanda at that time.(RD=TG+HT+X).

May 31, 2010 6:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
groverino wrote:
It seems fair to refer to this as a Rwandan nightmare as it cut into the heart of Rwandans, Tutsi and Hutus alike, Twa, and foreigners… But what are the proportions of victims of the killings?
Many germans, catholics, homosexuals, Rom, political dissidents, and others were killed during the Holocaust, but we refer to this as a genocide of the Jewish people because the Jews were specifically targeted as another ethnic group that was intended to be eradicated.
Was it not the intention of the killers in Rwanda to eradicate another group of people based on their ethnicity? Was not the language of hatred that was spread focusing on destroying the Tutsis and any other group sympathizer with them, including Hutus and foreigners?

Jun 02, 2010 5:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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