Peter Erlinder on his way home from Rwandan prison
After a month of detention in Rwandan prisons, William Mitchel law professor Peter Erlinder is on his way back to the United States. He was released yesterday on bail due to medical issues.
Erlinder was arrested May 28 for denying that the deaths of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were part of an orchestrated genocide by radical Hutus controlling the Rwandan military. He was in the country to defend opposition political candidate Victoire Ingabire, who is accused of denying the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
His lawyer, Ken Ogeto, told Democracy Now he welcomed the news:
"We're very happy about it. The bail was given without any conditions. The only condition, actually, is that he's got to leave an address here, which means he can travel back to the United States of America. Prosecution was given the authorization to proceed with their investigations. We don't know how they're going to do it, but our client is willing to come back anytime they need him, absolutely no problem."
The Star Tribune says U.S. officials are calling his release "unconditional." Not so, says Rwandan prosecutor Martin Ngoga:
"Bail on health grounds cannot be mistaken as vindication for Mr. Erlinder," Ngoga said in a statement. "This will not deter the prosecution as we finalize the case against Mr. Erlinder. He will soon be called to defend his record of genocide denial that insults the people of Rwanda and inflames those who seek to harm us."
Whether Erlinder would return to Rwanda in his own defense remains to be seen.
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