Rwanda: American Law Professor Charged with Genocide Denial

June 15, 2010

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American lawyer Peter Erlinder, photo courtesy of the William Mitchell College of Law

Defense attorney Peter Erlinder, an American, sits in a Rwandan jail and stands accused by the Rwandan government of genocide denial and threatening national security. He was charged after alleging in documents that members of Rwanda's current government shot down a presidential plane in 1994, setting off the genocide.

Erlinder was denied bail last week despite serious health concerns and pressure from the U.S. government. He requested to be released to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons due to failing health.

Erlinder presented medical evidence that he had brain tumor, cardiac difficulties and skin problems likely to become cancerous. Many are skeptical of reports he attempted suicide while in custody.

In response Rwandan prosecutors stated “…we want Professor Erlinder to remain in custody [based] on the fact that he is part of a global network of Genocide deniers from the United States, Belgium, Holland and many other countries[and] he has vowed to rewrite the history of the Genocide…and [provide] intellectual cover for the Genocide deniers.

And with us to discuss the situation is Brian Endless, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University-Chicago and Senior Advisor to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation. They work on post-conflict truth, reconciliation and justice issues in Rwanda and Africa's Great Lakes region...