International Law

Art Imitates Life for California Lawyer and Legal Thriller Author


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U.S. lawyers defending accused genocide suspects aren’t faring well in Rwanda. A lawyer who is the latest to feel the wrath of the country’s legal establishment is Peter Robinson, a legal thriller author whose novel suggests some of his current troubles.

First came the arrest of William Mitchell College of Law professor Peter Erlinder, who was accused last week under a law that prohibits anyone from denying or minimizing the genocide that took place in the country in 1994. A second lawyer, Kurt Kerns of Kansas, says he was nearly arrested after he referred to police who arrested Erlinder as punks.

Now Robinson, of Santa Rosa, Calif., is facing proceedings for contempt of court after seeking to withdraw from a case before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, according to AllAfrica.com and the Guardian.Co.UK. Robinson says Erlinder’s arrest makes it impossible for him to represent his client.

Robinson’s book, which he self-published in 2004, is titled The Tribunal. The plot is described this way on Robinson’s website: “When attorney Kevin Anderson decides to uproot his family and move them to Holland, he expects a fantastic job prosecuting war criminals at the United Nationals Tribunal. Instead, he is thrown into the defense of a notorious Serbian warlord accused of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Kevin faces a suspicious client, a self-righteous prosecutor and hostile judges.”

The plot also includes a kidnapping and CIA interference.

Updated at 3:16 p.m. to include publishing details.

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