Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

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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:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prof.Peter Erlinder said: Arrest in Kigali “a nightmare”

Peter Erlinder, lead defense counsel for top genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was released from a Rwandan prison on June 18th. The law professor was charged with genocide denial after questioning the official Rwandan version of the 1994 genocide. Click here to listen to the Radio Interview that Prof.Erlinder held with Chad Hartman

Erlinder was detained on May 28th while in Kigali to defend opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire.

He spoke to IJT’s Hermione Gee about his detention.

The arrest was a nightmare. I was having my breakfast coffee and finishing my croissant at the pool of my hotel when six young men surrounded me and very politely said come with us. They took me to a police facility, where I was held for about three hours or so. I was not questioned very much. Then we drove back to the hotel. They had a search warrant to search my room, but I had no idea what they were looking for. Everything I could ever be accused of saying is published on the web, so I was not sure what they expected to find in my room.

Did they tell you what you were charged with?

I am being investigated for speech and thought crimes, not because of anything in the material world. Rwanda has passed so-called call genocide denial laws or genocide ideology laws and they claim there is something similar to Holocaust denial laws in Europe. I guess there are some similarities but because the way they define genocide is so broad that anyone who questions the government’s version of events during the civil war that led to them taking power is accused of either being a genocide denier or having genocide ideology and the sole accusation is enough.

What did they ask you during the interrogations?

They would take out an article that I had written - which is available on the web - read excerpts to me and ask what I meant by that, inquiring about what my positions were. Basically it was based on my public writing.

Then they started to ask questions about what had had been filed in court. For example, there’s a pending lawsuit against Kagame in Oklahoma city for the assassination of [former Rwandan President] Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Ntaryamina. They quoted sections from that pleading as my crime.

And then I also quoted the indictments issued by the French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere - who also laid the responsibility over Habyarimana’s murder at Kagame’s doorstep - and Spanish judge Morales - who had identified 350,000 Hutu victims of [Kagame’s] RPF soldiers.
The fact that I cited the indictments they issued was used as a basis to charge me with a crime. As well as my arguments at the ICTR.

Have the charges against you been dropped?
I don’t think so. In the Rwandan system these investigations can go on indefinitely. Now, the investigation can proceed. If they decide to charge me we’ll deal with it at that time. Or, if during the investigation, I am called back to provide more evidence I will keep my pledge to return.

I am a legal academic, a lawyer and not a scofflaw. I have no hesitancy defending myself on the merits in court. I would love to do that. In fact, if I had the opportunity to do that I could then introduce into the Rwandan courts all of the documents that I have already accumulated. That will mean the people of Rwanda for the first time in history will be able to see what their real history is. I am not sure if the Rwandan government is going to want that to occur. click here to read the Rwanda Document Project of Prof.Peter Erlinder which details the new revelation of how Rwanda genocide happened and the international involvement.

If it turns out that the legitimacy of the government is based on a story that is factually untrue, and if having the trial requires me to prove that its factually untrue - which I am prepared to do - it might seem to me that logic would prevail. But logic doesn’t necessarily drive these decisions.

However, it is also true that in the interim the UN and the ICTR have both concluded that everything that I am charged with is covered by the immunity that I have because of my work at the ICTR. It all derives from that. So then the effect of that immunity has to be addressed some time in the future if I am called back


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