HELSINKI, Finland, Aug. 23 (UPI) — The defense in the genocide case of Rwandan pastor Francois Bazaramba is alleging most of the statements by witnesses were obtained through torture.
An appeal of Bazaramba’s conviction for involvement in the Rwandan genocide in 1994 began at the Helsinki Court of Appeals on Monday, Helsingen Sonomat reported.
Prosecutors will argue Bazaramba both incited and led killings during the genocide, while his defense maintains Bazaramba was not present at the scene of the killings at the time that the prosecution claims he was.
Bazaramba’s lawyer Ville Hoikkala said some of the witnesses against the pastor have been beaten and kept in very bad conditions in a Rwandan prison, and claimed they had been paid to testify.
“When they have given statements to the National Bureau of Investigation they have been released,” Hoikkala said.
The prosecution has denied the allegations.
“The witnesses have expressed that they were testifying of their own free will,” state prosecutor Raija Toiviainen said.
In September the trial will move from Helsinki to Rwanda.