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Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 17:23 UK

Finland charges Rwandan suspect

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

Finland has charged a former preacher at a Baptist church in Rwanda with genocide for his alleged role in the killings in the African nation in 1994.

Francois Bazaramba has been held in detention in Finland for more than two years after seeking asylum in 2003.

Prosecutors said they had enough evidence to try Mr Bazaramba, rather than extradite him to Rwanda where they fear he may not get a fair hearing.

If found guilty, the 58-year-old faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Mr Bazaramba's lawyer said his client would plead not guilty to the charges and insisted he had not been in a position where he could have led any killings.

"He is not guilty, and we have evidence that some of the witnesses heard in Rwanda were tortured," Ville Hoikkala told reporters.

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

On Monday, Finland's prosecutor-general said a pre-trial investigation had found evidence that Mr Bazaramba, a Hutu, had "committed a crime of genocide in the municipality of Nyakizu in April and May 1994 with intent to destroy the Rwandan Tutsis partly or totally".

Mr Bazaramba was also charged with 15 counts of murder, he said.

Rwandan authorities accuse him of having participated in planning, leading and carrying out the massacre of 5,000 Tutsis while the head of the Union of Baptist Churches of Rwanda (UEBR) in Nyakizu.

Finnish law allows prosecutions for crimes against humanity wherever they are committed.



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