A Danish court ruled Wednesday that non-Danes could not be tried in Denmark for genocide committed abroad, in a decision that affects the case of a Rwandan man in Danish custody suspected of having participated in his country's 1994 genocide.
"The court finds there is no legal basis in Denmark to prosecute foreigners charged with genocide in another country," the judge said in the written ruling.
The court in Roskilde, to the north of Copenhagen, however said it did have jurisdiction in secondary allegations against an unnamed 49-year-old Rwandan, who was arrested in the Scandinavian country last December suspected taking part in the slaughter of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.
The man is suspected of having headed a death squad and taking part in a massacre in the town of Gasagara where 25,000 Tutsis were slaughtered between April 21 and 25, 1994.
The court made its jurisdiction ruling after the Rwandan man's defence lawyer Bjoern Elmquist petitioned for a decision in principle on whether Danish law provided authority to prosecute cases in which genocide was allegedly committed outside Denmark by non-Danish nationals.
"My client was satisfied to hear the court's ruling," Elmquist said, adding he expected the state prosecutor to appeal the ruling and believed the case would eventually reach the Supreme Court.
The Roskilde court meanwhile found that while the genocide allegations could not be presented in Denmark, the secondary suspicions against the Rwandan of murder and complicity could, ruling that he should remain in custody.
A new remand hearing has been scheduled for June 9.
An estimated 800,000 people, for the most part minority Tutsis, were killed in the 1994 bloodletting by extremist Hutus.