Rwandan jailed for life

2010-06-11 14:26

Helsinki - A Finnish court on Friday found a Rwandan man guilty of taking part in the African country's 1994 genocide and handed him a sentence of life in prison.

Concluding Finland's first ever genocide trial, the district court of Itae-Uusimaa found that 59-year-old Baptist pastor Francois Bazaramba's actions showed "intent to destroy in whole or in part the Rwandan Tutsis as a group".

"The Court has found Bazaramba guilty of an offence which without a genocidal intent would be judged as a murder or incitement to murder," it said in a statement.

"For those crimes, the only possible punishment is life imprisonment."

Bazaramba was arrested by Finnish police in April 2007 on suspicion of taking part in the Rwandan genocide, in which at least 800,000 people, most of them ethnic Tutsis, were killed within six weeks by Hutu extremists.

Bazaramba, who moved to Finland in 2003 and has sought asylum in the Nordic country, denied the genocide charges.

The court however ruled he had "inflicted on Tutsis who lived in the Maraba sector and its surroundings conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the group."

According to commercial television channel MTV3, Bazaramba was planning to appeal the sentence.

During the trial, the court heard 68 witnesses from around the world and travelled to Kigali and Dar es Salaam to hear witnesses.

It also visited the community of Nyakizu in Rwanda where most of the crimes Bazaramba was convicted for were committed.