Kigali, September 22, 2011 (FH) -  In the appeals trial of François Bazaramba, a 60 year-old Rwandan pastor sentenced to life in jail by a Finnish lower court in June 2010, Prosecution called to the stand on Thursday Rwanda's General Prosecutor Martin Ngoga.

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The appeals trial opened in August in Helsinki. However, the court moved last week to Kigali, where it is slated to be sitting until October 5. The hearings take place in a room equipped with a video-conference system allowing the accused and one of his lawyers in Finland to cross-examine Prosecution witnesses who come to the bar.

Francois Bazaramba, who had lived in Finland since 2003 and until his arrest in 2007, was convicted for acts of genocide. The lower court of Itä-Uusimaa found him guilty of intending to "destroy in whole or in part the Rwandan Tutsis as a group," according to the verdict. It added that he had spread anti-Tutsi propaganda and incited Hutus "to killings through fomenting anger and contempt towards Tutsis."

"We called to the bar the General Prosecutor in order to have a wider view on how the Rwandan judiciary system works and to dismiss allegations of "political motivations" behind this trial", Finnish Prosecutor Tom Laitinen told the court.

Martin Ngoga first gave background information on how gacaca courts were created after the genocide. He then explained that evidence against most of the genocidaires , including Bazaramba, was gathered through the gacaca system.

Asked by the defence how this type of evidence could be credible, he acknowledged that gacaca courts worked without professional lawyers or judges but added: "The [local] community is responsible for the whole thing. It's a community bargain".

He claimed that "empirical evidence on the ground implicates Bazaramba".

After Ngoga, the 25th witness of the Prosecution came to the stand. A former convict released after eight years in jail, he asserted that Bazaramba "was acting as the boss of our raids to kill and loot".

Prosecution intends to call about 50 witnesses while Defence is expected to cite 37 witnesses, of whom 10 will be heard in Kigali.

The roving tribunal is then expected to move to Tanzania and Zambia to hear more testimonies.

Bazaramba's first instance trial opened in September 2009.


© Hirondelle News Agency