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Erlinder: Returning To Rwanda Would Be Death Sentence

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(Credit: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)

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By Bruce Hagevik, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Rwanda’s top prosecutor says he’s ready to file charges against Peter Erlander, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, but Erlander is not about to cooperate.

“Returning to Rwanda would be the equivalent of walking into a death sentence,” Erlander said.

WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Interviews Peter Erlander

Rwanda has accused Erlander of genocide denial. He was held in a Rwanda prison for a time, but he was released last year on medical grounds.

Erlander says there’s no extradition agreement between the U.S. and the African nation, but it is possible an Interpol warrant could be issued.

“The only way I would know that a warrant had been issued is if I cross a border and I’m arrested,” Erlander said.

It’s generally agreed that more than a half million Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, were massacred by Hutus during the 1994 genocide.

“I’ve always agreed that huge numbers of Tutsis were killed,” Erlander said. “But it’s the story that the Rwandan government has told that I’ve reported differently than they’d like it to be told — that’s caused them to prosecute me.”

Erlinder has been a lead defense attorney for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

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