Rwanda offers help in Finland Genocide trial

HELSINKI - The National Public Prosecutions Authority (NPPA) will readily provide, if contacted, witnesses to testify against Francois Bazaramba, a Genocide suspect whose trial is about to resume in Finland.

HELSINKI - The National Public Prosecutions Authority (NPPA) will readily provide, if contacted, witnesses to testify against Francois Bazaramba, a Genocide suspect whose trial is about to resume in Finland.

Bazaramba, 58, a former clergyman with the Baptist Church in Rwanda, is accused of masterminding the killing of over 5,000 people who were seeking refuge at Nyakizu Hill, in the Southern Province, during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“Well, we haven’t received official correspondence from the Finnish court about the case, but I am sure we will be able to provide witnesses and evidence on Bazaramba if we are called upon,” said Augustin Nkusi, the spokesperson of the prosecution. 

According to reports, a Finish State Prosecutor said she was not able to detail the nature of the crimes or possible number of witnesses to be summoned, but hinted at the possibility of cooperating with Rwandan authorities on witnesses.

It is estimated that over 100 witnesses, all from outside Finland will be lined to testify against Bazaramba for genocide crimes.

The Rwandan government had earlier contested a February decision by Finland not extradite Bazaramba who has been in detention in Finland since April 2007, despite the application in April 2008 by the state to have the suspect extradited to Rwanda to face charges.

Meanwhile, the court in Porvoo, a town east of the capital Helsinki where Bazaramba has lived since 2003, is yet to rule if it would summon witnesses to Finland, allow depositions in other countries, or allow witnesses to testify via video conference systems, or a combination of these options.

Bazaramba is one of the many suspects arrested in Europe whose extradition to Rwanda was requested but the host countries decided to keep them there.

Finnish law allows prosecutions for crimes against humanity wherever they are committed. If found guilty, the 58-year-old faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“What Rwanda really wants is to have these suspects extradited, but if that is not possible, we still want to see justice take its course and we are ready to cooperate with these courts” said Nkusi.

“We are very happy that Bazaramba is finally going to be tried. We have been pushing for his extradition, but now that the Finish court has decided to try him, we really welcome the development” said Jacqueline Mukangira, the Rwandan Ambassador to the Tri-Nordic Countries.

Meanwhile, last week, the Swedish superior court ruled that Sylvere Ahorugeze, another suspect in custody in Stockholm, be extradited to Rwanda. However the process, according to reports, still lacks a political blessing.

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