Finnish court hears evidence in Rwanda genocide trial in Tanzanian hotel
Witnesses coming from five different countries
The East Uusimaa District Court has returned to Africa to hear witnesses in the trial of a Porvoo resident suspected of involvement in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
Last year the court travelled to Rwanda to hear testimony from prosecution witnesses. During the weekend, the court travelled to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where witnesses for the defence are to be heard from Wednesday onward.
A Finnish courtroom has been set up in a conference room of a hotel on the Msasani Peninsula, says the secretary of the court Petra Spring-Reiman.
She said that everyone involved in the trial - the judges, prosecutors, defence counsel, and witnesses are living in the same area. “We want to avoid falling behind schedule because of traffic jams.”
The previous African journey of the court was to the Rwandan capital Kigali in September and October last year. At that time the court heard from 38 witnesses, most of whom were named by the prosecution.
Now 19 witnesses named by the defence are to take the stand. They are coming from five different African countries. Most of them are refugees, and the court will hear their testimony behind closed doors.
Defence counsel Ville Hoikkala says that some of the witnesses had seen acts of violence in which the defendant, Francois Bazaramba is suspected of having been involved.
“Others were in the company of Bazaramba when he is claimed to have been committing these acts”, Hoikkala says.
The court heard the first four defence witnesses in Porvoo two weeks ago. They had come to Finland from Zambia.
The defendant will follow the trial by video link from a jail in Vantaa.
Spring-Reiman says that the court hopes to hear all of the witnesses in three weeks. However, not all of the witnesses will spend all three weeks in Tanzania.
“There is a good deal of pressure on us to get them to the country exactly when they should testify, and out of the country after that”, Spring-Reiman notes.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Man living in Porvoo indicted for involvement in Rwanda genocide (1.6.2009)
Defence witnesses in Rwanda genocide trial to be called to Finland (8.1.2010)
Back from Rwanda, Porvoo court ponders need for new trip to Africa (27.10.2009)
Finnish genocide trial in Rwanda interrupted twice by technical difficulties (16.9.2009)