Arusha, June 10, 2010 (FH) - The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has instructed the Registrar to obtain all information regarding exact nature and basis of charges against American lawyer Peter Erlinder, who was recently arraigned in Rwanda for "genocide denial".

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"The Appeals Chamber instructs the Registrar, on an urgent basis, to request the assistance of Rwandan authorities for the purposes of obtaining all information relating to the exact nature and basis of the charges brought against Peter Erlinder," it said in its order dated June 9, 2010.

The decision follows a motion by genocide-convict and former Rwandan army officer, Major Aloys Ntabakuze, seeking orders requiring the Tribunal's Registrar to take immediate action to secure the release of Prof. Erlinder, his lead counsel in the pending appeal against the life imprisonment sentence he is facing.

Ntabakuze also sought for orders to stop all proceedings against his counsel, who was arrested on May 28 and subsequently charged with offences related to "negation of the 1994 genocide".

Charges against Erlinder, he claimed, were directly connected to statements he made outside Rwanda, including before the Tribunal in course of his defence, thus constituting intimidation and serious interference with legal process and directly impact his rights to a fair and expeditious trial.

He said the necessary treatment to protect performance of defence members' functions was for Tribunal to enjoin the Rwandan government to refrain from intimidating, harassing and interfering with their functions and drop the charges against Erlinder and release him immediately.

Erlinder, a Law Professor, is President of the ICTR defence lawyers association in Arusha. He had been in Kigali as part of defence team of an opponent to President Paul Kagame's regime, Victoire Ingabire, who is charged with negation of genocide, collaboration to a terrorist organization and spreading ethnic division.


© Hirondelle News Agency