Arusha, June 18, 2010 (FH) - Rwanda High Court in Kigali on Thursday granted release on medical grounds to American lawyer Peter Erlinder, accused of negating the 1994 genocide, Radio Rwanda reported.

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"We don't have all the legal details on today's ruling (but) it is our understanding that he will be able to travel freely once the orders for his release are transmitted to the proper authorities," a US embassy spokesman told Associated Press.

According to Radio Rwanda, Peter Erlinder must give to the judges an address in Rwanda where the court will be able to contact him when needed.

Jean-Bosco Kazungu, one of Erlinder's six defence counsels, told Hirondelle News agency he was delighted. "He is now free to go to the United States to receive a medical treatment while his case goes on here", he added.

However, Rwanda's chief prosecutor, Martin Ngoga, said in a statement that Erlinder "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".

"Bail on health grounds cannot be mistaken as vindication for Mr. Erlinder - it just proves that the justice system he so freely criticizes was willing to show him compassion with respect to his physical and mental well-being," Ngoga added.

Peter Erlinder was arrested in Rwanda on May 28. He was there to be part of the defence team of Victoire Ingabire, an opponent to Paul Kagame's regime who has herself been charged of negation of the genocide.

He is also Major Aloys Ntabakuze's Lead Defence Counsel at the the ICTR. The former officer has been sentenced to life in jail in his first trial and his now awaiting his appeal.

On Tuesday, the ICTR registrar had sent an official note to the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking for his release. "The Office of Legal Affairs advised the ICTR to formally assert immunity for Professor Erlinder without delay and request his immediate release". "The prosecution made specific references to words and statements Erlinder made in his case before the ICTR." read the note.


© Hirondelle News Agency