The Rwandan government is offering subdued praise for the Finnish trial
of a former Rwandan Baptist pastor suspected of genocide crimes.
Rwandan leaders say although they should be handling the case,
Finland's decision to prosecute the suspect is a step towards justice.
trial of Francois Bazaramba began Tuesday in Finland. The former
pastor is being tried for allegedly organizing the killing of 5,000
people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The suspect arrived in
Finland in 2003 seeking asylum, but has been under custody by
authorities since 2007. The country has refused to extradite the
prisoner to Rwanda for fear he would not receive a fair trial there.
Bazaramba faces life imprisonment if convicted. His fate is to be decided by a panel of four judges.
spokesman for the chief prosecutor of Rwanda, Augustin Nkuzi, says the
government is not pleased Finland has denied extradition, but the
government is happy that the suspect is undergoing a trial for his
Nkuzi condemned other nations that have
refused to hand over genocide suspects to Rwanda, yet offer no
alternative avenue for trying the suspects.
claiming jurisdiction over the Bazaramba case through a legal doctrine
known as the "universality principle." Proponents of the universality
principle claim some criminal acts, such as genocide, are so heinous
the crimes are committed against all of humanity.
Finnish law gives the country the right to try such cases as long as
the suspect was living in or arrested within its territory. A number
of human rights groups support the universality principle, saying it
closes some of the legal loopholes exploited by international
The defense team for the accused is seeking to
discredit the charges against their client by saying the evidence
collected against him was extracted through torture.
According to Nkuzi, the court will have a chance to hear the testimony of primary witnesses firsthand.
says the two nations have been working together to enable the court to
move to Rwanda later this month to carry out hearings.
is accused of being one of the chief orchestrators of the mass killings
in Rwanda's Nyakizu Province during April and May 1994.
800,000 people nationwide died during the ethnic massacre, which
targeted mostly the minority Tutsis and some moderate Hutus.