Peter Erlinder – Minnesota lawyer still jailed in Rwanda


Here are some updates on Peter Erlinder, the Minnesota lawyer jailed in Rwanda on allegations of “genocide ideology.” A charge of “genocide ideology” means that an individual said something that the government disagrees with about the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and particularly about any involvement by the current president. Erlinder represents a presidential candidate, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who is also charged with “genocide ideology.”

On May 31, Ted Dooley (a Twin Cities attorney and a National Lawyer’s Guild colleague of Erlinder), forwarded an email from someone in Rwanda that said:

Just to inform that Peter has been rushed to the emergency unit this afternoon in Kigali (31.05.2010). This happened after or during CID interrogations today.
After many attempts, people managed to see him and shortly we expect to get a first briefing about his status.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Peter Erlinder Jailed by One of the Major Genocidaires of Our Era
by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson in Monthly Review

The May 28 arrest of the U.S. attorney Peter Erlinder by the Paul Kagame dictatorship in Rwanda reveals much about this regime that is routinely sanitized in establishment U.S. and Western intellectual life and media coverage. … MORE


FROM 5/31 PRESS RELEASE BY Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza:

A fair trial is being violated because international lawyers would fear that their motions will lead to indictments being issued against them for ideology of genocide. In the eyes of this controversial Rwandan law on ideology of genocide, the defence or testimony to show the truth about the killings in Rwanda before, during and after the genocide would be taken as a proof of negation of the genocide. Then, the lawyers, experts’ witnesses and factual witnesses would fear the intimidation and threats to be arrested because of their positions to portray different views from Kagame’s regime.


May 30: forwarded email from Kurt Kerns, who is an attorney for Peter Erlinder:

As stated, myself and Jean Bosco Karungu, a local Rwandan lawyer finally got in to see Peter around four yesterday [Saturday] afternoon. He is in Kicukiro prison in Kigali. While the arresting officers were punks, his guards are treating him well.

He was arrested at his hotel Friday morning around 10:30. They had a search warrant and seized all his belongings. He was taken to police station and advised he was accused of G.I. [“genocide ideology] just like Victoire. He was asked what statement he would like to make and he said “I want my lawyer. I want to call my embassy and I want these damn cuffs off me.”

They then presented him with his statement to sign which included just the first two demands. Peter pointed out there was no reference to his handcuff demand. They then took off his cuffs. He then told them that doesn’t change the content of his original statement. It got added. (It was obvious he was not intimidated in the least) …

He can be held for 72 hours excluding weekend time before brought to prosecutor. Prosecutor decides at that point if going to charge.

Peter advised that he was in Rwanda last in 2006 and he made no statements here. Statements he made were all made in commonwealth countries that protect his speech. He doesn’t think Rwanda has figured out that because they are now part of commonwealth they can’t prosecute speech protected under laws of commonwealth. He pointed out we were here since last Sunday. He delivered introductory letters to prosecutor Ngoga, the bar, minister of justice, all without incident. …

His plan when asked for statement at court is to demand trial forthwith. …

He also intends to continue to fight to defend Victoire. …

Bottom line is Peter is in high spirits. He loves and misses his family but is emotionally and physically prepared to give them a legal battle beyond their wildest expectations.

After I left I went to Victoire. Ngoga summoned her to his office Monday morning. Rwandan procedure allows prosecutors to force defendants to answer questions at their office on demand. …



6/1/2010 correction: typo corrected: “Rwandan genocide of 1994 …”

6 thoughts on “Peter Erlinder – Minnesota lawyer still jailed in Rwanda

  1. General Kagame is a well known Criminal!

    Friends of Rwanda, Africa and peace. Please save Peter before Kagame regime gives him poisons!! He poisoned many people including the former presedent Pasteur Bizimunga as consequence he is now mental Ill, He cant even walk or write.

    The same thing will happen to the opposition presidential candidate Mme Victoire Ingabire as every one in Rwanda want to vote for Her.

    The victory of Mme Ingabire as prisedent would mean the begining of justice in Rwanda, that’s what scares most Kagame regime.

    Kagame needs to be hold accountable on the crimes and massacres he did ( KIBEHO, RDC , RWANDA) now NGO are saying that he is responsible of at least 5millions deaths in Africa Great Lakes Region.

    Please act now or it will be to late.

    KAGAME needs to be sent to ICTR for the crimes he committed

  2. Thank you for the inclusion of the Herman/Peterson background piece that the corporate media always seems to fail to mention. Having heard Peter Erlinder speak about Rwanda after his trip several years ago, I was well aware that he did not deny a genocide took place but rather he exposed US and western complicity in it. Hopefully, this extreme over-reach by the Kagame regime will expose its true nature – in a similar vein to Israel’s oppression of Mordecai Vanunu because of his truth-telling about nuclear weapons. 

  3. the Genocide against the Tutsi took place in 1994 not 1984 and remember PETER is not above the law, the the law take its course

  4. It it time for the West, mostly US and UK to stop protecting Kagame and his RPF team. 

    Peter Erlinder is brave and admired for his extraordinary courage to want exposing the truth of events in Rwanda. Wake up people and seek truth and justice. Punish the criminals. God is watching and the truth will prevail soon!

  5. Dear Musoni, who are you to say so? Erlinder is a lawyer who wants things to be the way they should be. He is one of the few people who really know what justice is. You people tried to make history on a lie basis. If you just remove the lie, things will be clear to the world. Liars!

  6. You what Paul, God bless. Kagame is the source of all the miseries in that part of Africa. He needs to be arrested and face the same fate als Saddam. I will personaly be there to help. And I will say on radio: Ladies and gentlemen, WE’Ve GOT HIM !!!


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