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Nkunda's Attorney Asks Rwanda to Grant Access to Client

Peter Clottey | Washington, DC 14 January 2010

The attorney of Laurent Nkunda, former Congolese renegade army general says he will present a letter to Rwandan President Paul Kagame Friday seeking access to the former rebel leader.

Stephane Bourgon said he is also working closely with an international rights group to ensure the former rebel leader’s rights are not continually abused by the authorities in Rwanda.

“I have been trying on and on by sending letters to the president of the Republic of Rwanda, by sending letters to his ministers. All of these letters were ignored. So last night, I drafted yet another letter and&helliptoday, this letter will be delivered to the president asking yet again… to see my client, which is a fundamental right, which my client is being deprived of,” he said.

Nkunda, who was formerly the head of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) rebel group, was arrested last year in Gisenye after fleeing a joint Rwanda-Congo military operation.

Attorney Bourgon said despite repeated requests, Rwanda has so far refused to grant him access to the former rebel.

“I have no clue whether this letter will make a difference. But I’m simply doing everything I can as Laurent Nkunda’s attorney to get to see my client so I can discuss with him. And together, we can establish a strategy yet again to address the fact that he has been deprived of liberty without any charges… This is a total violation of every international instrument to which Rwanda is a party to, and this is very bad,” Bourgon said.

Nkunda’s CNDP rebel group was often accused of committing numerous atrocities in eastern Congo in recent years, including in Bukavu in 2004 and more recently in the North Kivu town of Kiwanja where Human Rights Watch documented the executions of at least 150 people.

Bourgon said the former rebel leader has been “illegally” detained without charges.

“We would like to make sure that he is charged and that he is put under trial for being the head of the CNDP. What the most important thing is today is that charges have not been pressed, whether it is in the Democratic Republic of Congo or whether it is here in Rwanda or elsewhere,” Bourgon said.

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