finland, finland, finland
Well, just in time for me to wake up from a nasty case of jet lag, we learned earlier this week that Finland has finally formally charged Rwandan Baptist pastor Francois Bazaramba with genocide. Bazaramba sought asylum in Finland in 2003 and has been in custody for the last two years.
It's hard to know what to think about these sorts of cases. On the one hand, there's no doubt that many participants in Rwanda's 1994 genocide have since fled the country. On the other, there's also no doubt that many, many Hutus have been falsely accused of committing genocide for political and economic reasons (eg, someone wants their land). The Rwandan authorities claim that Bazaramba, who headed the Union of Baptist Churches in Rwanda in Nyakizu, is responsible for the deaths of about 5,000 people. The Finns, for their part, have charged him with fifteen counts of murder, which may or may not indicate that the 5,000 figure is a bit of an exaggeration. Who knows?
One thing's for sure; the Finns are right that Bazaramba would be very unlikely to get a fair trial in Rwanda, even though the Rwandans claim to stand ready to help with the prosecution, "if contacted." By holding the trial in Finland, they have plenty of problems with bringing witnesses in to testify and with the judges really understanding the situation. But Bazaramba will at least have decent legal representation and a far better shot at a fair trial. Stay tuned on this one.