Rwandan preacher found guilty of genocide by Finnish court

rwanda-map-littleA Finnish court has sentenced an African preacher to life in jail for his part in Rwanda’s genocide. Francois Bazaramba, 59, has been living in Finland since 2003, but charges were brought against him as the Nordic country allows prosecutions for crimes against humanity regardless of where they were committed.

AP reports that the court heard how Bazaramba wanted to “destroy in whole or part the Rwandan Tutsis as a group.” In 1994, the 100-day slaughter saw around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed by the Hutu militias.

Bazaramba was working as a pastor in a Baptist church in Nyakizu, southern Rwanda, at the time of the genocide. Helsingin Sanomat reports that he was found guilty of organising deadly attacks and the torching of homes.

The court said in a statement that Bazaramba had incited “killings through fomenting anger and contempt towards Tutsis,” as well as spreading anti-Tutsi propaganda. “The court has found Bazaramba guilty of an offence which without a genocidal intent would be judged as a murder or incitement to murder. For those crimes, the only possible punishment is life imprisonment,” the statement said.

Almost 70 witnesses travelled to the court from Tanzania and Rwanda to give their testimonies. Finland refused a request by Rwanda to extradite Bazaramba last year, claiming he might not receive a fair trial.

The man’s lawyer said Bazaramba would be appealing against the sentence. He has been detained in Finland since 2007, four years after seeking asylum in the country.

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