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Pastor Who Planned Massacre of 5000 Tutsi Denied Early Release

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
7:45 pm

Francois Bazaramba

The Helsinki Court of Appeals on Friday denied genocide convict Pastor Francois Bazaramba’s request for early release from his
life imprisonment citing the seriousness of his crimes.

Bazaramba is serving a life sentence since his conviction in 2012 for his role in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Following his arrest in 2007, lengthy investigations and subsequent trials, Bazaramba was found guilty of killing several people, ordering the killing of seven Tutsis and inciting massacres.

According to Bazaramba’s trial document,  at the time of the genocide, he was a pastor in the Baptist church in the community Nyakizu in the Southern Province. Bazaramba was an active member of the MDR Power (Republican Democratic Movement), representing the Hutu extremists.

He was in close collaboration with Ladislas Ntaganzwa, mayor of the town of Nyakizu and a notorious genocide suspect who is standing trial in Rwanda after he was arrested in Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) in 2017.

Bazaramba enjoyed considerable public influence in the Maraba sector. During the course of the events, he is believed to have planed and carried out the massacre of more than 5’000 persons who were trying to run away from the atrocities.

In 2003, Bazaramba arrived in Finland, where he sought asylum. In April 2007, he was put in detention, according to an order of the District Court of Porvoo, while the National Bureau of Investigation carried out an investigation on allegations of war crimes.

In February 2009, Finland dismissed the request of Rwandan authorities to extradite Bazaramba to Rwanda, giving an excuse that he would not receive a fair trial. However, several other countries sent suspects to be tried in Rwanda.

On 1 June 2009, after a long investigation, the Finnish General Prosecutor Office charged Bazaramba with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In order to hear the testimonies of the high number of witnesses residing outside Finland, the Helsinki Court of Appeals held some court sessions in Rwanda and in Zambia.

On 11 June 2010, the Eastern Uusimaa District Court in Finland sentenced Bazaramba to life imprisonment for participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

He was found guilty of committing acts with the intention to “destroy in whole or part the Rwandan Tutsis as a group”.

The court found that Bazaramba had facilitated the acquisition and distribution of materials used in torching Tutsi homes.

In addition, the court said he had spread anti-Tutsi propaganda and incited “killings through fomenting anger and contempt towards Tutsis”.

The court also agreed with the claims of the prosecution that Bazaramba had organised roadblocks and night patrols to oppress the Tutsi population.

The court ruled that Bazaramba had directly ordered or urged others to kill five Tutsis.

On 30 March 2012, the Helsinki Court of Appeals upheld Bazaramba’s conviction, confirming the sentence of life imprisonment. Bazaramba manifested the intention to appeal such decision in front of the Finnish Supreme Court. On 22 October 2012, the Finnish Supreme Court confirmed his sentence of life imprisonment.

The Court of Appeal hearing his request for early release ruled that he had not met the conditions for early release.

Rwanda has expressed disappointment on early release of Genocide convicts either from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda or from countries.

Lastly released is Colonel Simba Aloys.

“Let agree that early release helps the convicts, but we had agreed that before early release is decided, Rwanda should be consulted to see of the early release is fair.” said Ahishakiye Naphtal, the executive secretary of Ibuka, the umbrella of Genocide survivors association.

“Our concern is that this consultation is never done and those convicts do not deserve early release because they are not appologetic of their attrocities. The basis to grant them early release is quite unfair.”