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Finland prosecutor charges Rwanda pastor with genocide

[JURIST] Finland's Office of the Prosecutor General [official website, in Finnish] on Monday charged [press release] former Rwandan pastor Francois Bazaramba with genocide and 15 associated murders. Bazaramba is accused of organizing and carrying out the killing of more than 5,000 civilians in the in the town of Nyakizu during the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; BBC backgrounder]. Bazaramba was taken into custody in Finland on suspicion of war crimes since 2007, after seeking asylum there in 2003. The Finnish government refused to extradite [press release] Bazaramba to Rwanda in February, saying that they were not convinced that he would receive a fair trial. Bazaramba faces life in prison under Finnish law, which allows the prosecution of war crimes committed outside of Finland under universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder; JURIST commentary].

Several countries have prosecuted and convicted Rwandan war crimes suspects. Last week, Rwandan Hutu Desire Munyaneza [Trial Watch profile], the first person to be tried under Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act [text, PDF], was convicted [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court of Quebec [official website] of seven counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. In March, a Dutch court sentenced [JURIST report] Rwandan Hutu Joseph Mpambara [Trial Watch profile] to 20 years in for killings committed when he was allegedly a member of the extremist Hutu militia Interahamwe [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. In January, a court in the Rwandan capital of Kigali successfully prosecuted former justice minister Agnes Ntamabyariro, sentencing her to life in prison [JURIST report] for planning acts of genocide, distributing weapons, and arranging the assassination of then-Butare Province governor Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, who opposed the genocide.

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