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Finland Will Not Extradite Rwandan Suspect

Finland has decided not to turn over to Rwandan authorities a man suspected of war crimes during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. However he will likely face trial in Finland.

Ruandalaisia pakolaisia vuonna 1994
Ruandalaisia pakolaisia vuonna 1994. Image: Reuters

Rwanda has sought the repatriation of the 57-year-old, who moved to Finland in 2003 and applied for asylum. He has worked as a Baptist preacher in Vaasa and Porvoo. He has been detained for nearly two years as Finnish authorities have carried out one of the most massive investigations in the nation's legal history. The man was arrested in 2007 on suspicion of planning, leading and implementing massacres.

The Justice Ministry noted on Friday that international courts have ruled that genocide suspects should not be returned to that country to face justice. Finnish officials say they are not convinced that he would receive a fair trial there. France and Germany have rejected Rwanda's requests for extradition on similar grounds.

Finnish courts have jurisdiction over war crimes cases regardless of where the alleged crimes have taken place.

In early February, a probe by the National Bureau of Investigation was completed, and the matter went to prosecutors for consideration of formal charges.

Finland Weighs 1st Genocide Trial

During the NBI investigation, more than 100 people were questioned, including some convicted in Rwanda of involvement in the genocide.

If a Finnish state prosecutor decides to file charges against the former cleric, Finland's first-ever genocide trial would be at Porvoo District Court. The maximum sentence would be life in prison.

During the Rwandan civil war of 1994, an estimated 800,000 people were killed in less than two months, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The man denies 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.

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