Arusha, June 11, 2010 (FH) - A Finnish court sentenced on Friday Rwandan Baptist pastor François Bazaramba to life in jail for committing genocide in his home country in 1994.

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According to Itä-Uusimaa's court verdict,  the 59-year-old pastor was found guilty of intending to "destroy in whole or part the Rwandan Tutsis as a group".

In a 115-page-ruling, the judges said that Bazaramba had forced Tutsis to leave their homes and had ordered Hutus to burn down the houses. "The court has found Bazaramba guilty of an offense which, even without genocidal intention, would be judged as murder or incitement to murder," the ruling said. "For those crimes the only possible punishment is life imprisonment.", reads a Tribunal press release.

Bazaramba had denied all the charges. According to his lawyer Ville Hoikkala quoted by MTV3, he intends to file an appeal.

Bazaramba, living in Finland as a refuge since 2003, has been in police custody since April 2007.

His trial for genocide, the first in Finland, opened in September 2009. During the case the court heard 68 witnesses, mostly in Kigali and in Nyakizu (South of Rwanda) where most of the pastor's crimes were allegedly perpetrated.

Last year, Finland declined a request by Rwanda to extradite Bazaramba, saying he might not receive a fair trial in his home country. The case was tried in Finland because the Nordic country has signed international agreements to investigate and try cases of genocide, if a suspect is living in Finland or has been apprehended here


© Hirondelle News Agency