Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Finns reject Rwandan extradition

Skulls of victims at the Genocide Memorial Site church of Ntarama, Rwanda
Some 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda's genocide

Finland has said it will not extradite a Rwandan man suspected of genocide in his home country, because he may not receive a fair trial there.

Officials said the decision followed rulings by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which has halted the referral of three similar cases.

The 57-year-old man, who has not been named, has been in custody since 2007.

He would be tried in Finland if a prosecutor charged him, officials said. A decision is expected later this year.

Finnish law allows prosecutions for crimes against humanity wherever they are committed. If convicted, the man would face life in prison.

He has not participated in genocide, on the contrary, he saved the lives of a number of people
Ville Hoikkala, lawyer

The Finnish state broadcaster YLE reported that the man had moved to Finland in 2003 and applied for asylum. Before his arrest in April 2007, he worked as a Baptist preacher in the towns of Vaasa and Porvoo, it added.

The Finnish justice ministry said the man was suspected of "having rendered himself guilty of genocide, offences against humanity and membership in a criminal organisation". He has denied the charges.

"He has not participated in genocide, on the contrary, he saved the lives of a number of people," his lawyer, Ville Hoikkala, told YLE.

In the 1994 genocide, about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu militias after the assassination of a Hutu leader.

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