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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Source: Erlinder did not make suicide attempt

Source: Erlinder did not make suicide attempt

Peter Erlinder, the St. Paul law professor jailed in Rwanda, did not try to commit suicide in his jail cell -- nor did he make a confession that police have alleged, a source close to Erlinder told the Star Tribune from Rwanda on Wednesday.

By RANDY FURST and PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune

Last update: June 2, 2010 - 4:38 PM

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Peter Erlinder, the St. Paul law professor jailed in Rwanda, did not try to commit suicide in his jail cell -- nor did he make a confession that police have alleged, a source close to Erlinder told the Star Tribune from Rwanda on Wednesday.

"It is complete poppycock," said the source in a telephone interview from Rwanda, directly refuting a claim made earlier Wednesday by Rwandan police.

Erlinder was arrested last Friday on allegations that he has denied the 1994 Rwanda genocide. He traveled to the African nation to represent opposition presidential candidate Victoire Iganbire, who also has been charged with promoting "genocide ideology."

Relatives and others who know the William Mitchell Law School professor scoffed at the notion that Erlinder would attempt suicide. "He is not the type of person that would commit suicide, not under these circumstances," said Scott Erlinder, his brother, who lives in Chicago.

Rwandan police held a news conference Wednesday, claiming that when they checked Erlinder in his jail cell on Wednesday morning, he was slumped over and nearly unconscious. The police claimed Erlinder had swallowed 45 to 50 pills. Police said they intervened before the pills could take effect and took him to a hospital.

The source told the Star Tribune that Erlinder was in the hospital now and described his condition as "fine." Said the source: "He is healthy." He said Erlinder was taken to the hospital because he was feeling ill, perhaps from extremely uncomfortable conditions in jail. "He has a foam mattress on a dirt floor with no pillow and one sheet and no mosquito net," the source said.

Randy Furst • 612-673-7382 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 612-673-7382

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