Law Professor Peter Erlinder Is Denied Bail in Rwanda

Kashmir Hill, Above the Law, June 7, 2010

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Last week, we told you about the William Mitchell College of Law professor, who traveled to Rwanda to help with the defense of a political leader running against the incumbent president. He was arrested soon after his arrival because of his “genocidal ideology.” He allegedly violated Rwanda’s laws against minimizing the 1994 genocide in which more than 500,000 Rwandans, mainly ethnic Tutsis, were killed.

Erlinder [Law professor Peter Erlinder], who previously defended a Hutu during the International Criminal Tribunals in 2003, contends that it’s inaccurate to blame just one side for what happened. That got him locked in the Rwandan slammer, along with the opposition leader he went to Kigali to defend. During interrogations last week, he fell ill, leading to his hospitalization. Erlinder’s wife says he needs his blood pressure medicine. His daughter told us she’s hoping the State Department will intervene.

He pleaded not guilty to the genocide-denial charges during a hearing on Friday, but the Rwandan judge decided today to turn down Erlinder’s bail application.

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{snip} On Friday, Erlinder was officially charged with “denying Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and publishing articles that threaten the country’s security,” according to the Associated Press:

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Erlinder’s lawyers asked that bail be granted because of his health — he has blood pressure problems and wants to return home to seek treatment. {snip}

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The Rwandan judge was not convinced that Erlinder’s failing health has anything to do with his imprisonment. {snip}

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Law professors (at least the non-clinical ones) aren’t known for their prowess in the courtroom. We hope Professor Erlinder fares better in the Rwandan court.

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