Professor Peter Erlinder granted bail in Rwanda, reportedly can leave country

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Professor Peter Erlinder granted bail in Rwanda, reportedly can leave country

By Beth Hawkins | Published Thu, Jun 17 2010 11:14 am

Peter Erlinder
Peter Erlinder

Faculty at William Mitchell College of Law learned this morning that Professor Peter Erlinder has been granted “unconditional” bail for “humanitarian and health-related reasons” by a Rwandan court.

Details are still trickling in, said Dean Eric Janus, but the initial reports from Erlinder’s family and lawyers suggest he is free to leave the country.

“That may not happen until tomorrow,” Janus said. “The paperwork still has to go through.”

Erlinder was arrested May 28 in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, soon after his arrival to prepare a case for charges of genocide-denial against opposition presidential candidate, Victoire Ingabire.

At the moment, Erlinder is hospitalized, said Janus. The totality of the 62-year-old professor’s health care concerns is not known, but relatives have confirmed that he is having problems with his blood pressure and apparently acknowledged a suicide attempt.

“So apparently this has been a very traumatic experience for him,” said Janus.

Erlinder mistrusted blood pressure medication Rwandan authorities provided after his arrest, Janus explained. The pills he was given were loose, not in labeled packaging.

His likely release is only the latest chapter in a complex, fierce struggle between the Minnesota lawyer and Rwandan President Paul Kagame over the historical record of the Rwandan genocide. Earlier this month, MinnPost examined Erlinder’s years-long effort to implicate Kagame and to expose what Erlinder calls a cover-up by the U.S. Pentagon of the true story behind the genocide in which some 800,000 people were slaughtered.

On June 2, jailers found Erlinder unconscious in his cell. They claimed he had swallowed a number of prescription drugs before he was to undergo more police interrogation.

“When we asked him why, he said he wanted to commit suicide,” said a Rwandan police spokesman, Eric Kayiranga, told the New York Times. “He knows the charges against him, he knows the weight of the sentence.”

Janus said he was told Erlinder would not have to post bail and was unsure when the professor might return home.

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