Finnish court sentences Rwandan pastor to life


A Finnish court sentenced a former Rwandan pastor to life in prison for participating in genocide in his native country in 1994.

Ita-Uusimaa district court said in a statement it had found Francois Bazaramba, 59, guilty of ordering Hutus to kill at least five Tutsis and led some attacks against Tutsis in 1994 in Cyahinda sector and Nyakizu in Rwanda.

Bazaramba, who moved to Finland in 2003, has insisted he is innocent.
“Of course he was sad, he was disappointed,” his lawyer Ville Hoikkala told Reuters.
“We are going to appeal, we consider this incorrect. My client is not convicted of actually killing anyone, he is convicted of encouraging others to kill,” he added.

Bazaramba was detained in April 2007 after the National Bureau of Investigation looked into his background.

The trial, which begun last September in Porvoo some 50 km (31 miles) northeast of the capital Helsinki, is Finland’s first genocide trial.

The justice ministry estimates the trial, which has heard dozens of witnesses in Finland, Rwanda and Tanzania, has cost around €1 million ($1.2 million).

Rwanda asked Finland to extradite Bazaramba to Rwanda, but the Nordic country turned down the request, saying he might not get a fair trial there.

The Finnish court was hearing the case under a “universal jurisdiction” principle, meaning a Finnish court can try people suspected of serious crimes such as war crimes or crimes against humanity regardless of where they took place.