The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday urged Kigali to immediately release Peter Erlinder, a US lawyer accused of supporting Rwandan genocide ideology.
Erlinder, who was detained in Rwanda on May 28, is the defence lawyer for Aloys Ntabakuze who is awaiting the result of an appeal at the ICTR against his life sentence.
The United Nations' Office of Legal Affairs "advised the ICTR to formally assert immunity for Professor Erlinder without delay and request his immediate release," said the Tanzania-based court's clerk, Adama Dieng.
"The ICTR hereby notifies the Rwandan authorities that Professor Erlinder enjoys immunity and requests therefore, his immediate release," he said.
The statement charged that the Rwandan prosecution in Erlinder's case had made clear references to comments the controversial US lawyer made as part of his defence of Ntabakuze.
Erlinder had travelled to Kigali to defend Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu opponent of President Paul Kagame's regime who is accused by the authorities of denying the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people died, mainly Tutsis.
Rwandan Attorney General Martin Ngoga said that references to Erlinder's work at the ICTR in the charges held against him were a mistake by the magistrate that would be clarified soon.
"The charging documents filed by the prosecutor are clear and have nothing to do with Erlinder’s work at the ICTR," he said.
Known for his hostility to the current Rwandan government, Erlinder frequently accuses the ICTR prosecution of covering up crimes committed in 1994 by Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front.
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch
Welcome to Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library