Dutch prosecutors appeal Basebya’s Genocide sentence

Dutch prosecutors on Wednesday appealed a Rwandan-born woman’s six-year sentence for inciting genocide, insisting she deserved harsher punishment because she was a “co-perpetrator” of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Basebya (sitting) during one of the court sessions in the Netherlands.   Net Photo.
Basebya (sitting) during one of the court sessions in the Netherlands. Net Photo.

Dutch prosecutors on Wednesday appealed a Rwandan-born woman’s six-year sentence for inciting genocide, insisting she deserved harsher punishment because she was a “co-perpetrator” of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In the first such conviction, a court in the Netherlands earlier this month sentenced Yvonne Basebya, 66, also Dutch citizen, to six years and eight months for her role in the slaughter of almost a million people.

Basebya was, however, acquitted on charges including war crimes and perpetrating genocide, for which prosecutors demanded a life sentence.

“We have formally lodged an appeal against the sentence,” prosecution spokesman Paul van der Zanden told AFP. Basebya is remembered for singing the infamous extremist song, Tubatsembatsembe (let’s exterminate them) during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Basebya “played a greater role than just inciting youngsters to commit genocide. The public prosecutor has come to the conclusion that her role should be examined again as a co-perpetrator,” Van derZanden said.

A judge at a March 1 hearing in The Hague found that although Basebya “called for hatred” it was not enough to convict her as a co-perpetrator of the slaughter of 110 Tutsis hiding in the Pallotines Church in Gikondo, a Kigali suburb.

The infamous killings at the church in April 1994 were widely regarded as the first proof that a genocide was under way in Rwanda.

Basebya followed her husband, Rwandan former MP Augustin Basebya, a former investigator for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, to live in the Netherlands in 1998. She acquired Dutch nationality in 2004.

Dutch courts can try Netherlands citizens for genocide, or foreign suspects if the genocide was committed after October 1970, following a recently changed law to broaden prosecution possibilities for the most serious of all crimes.

A Dutch appeals court in July 2011 sentenced Rwandan citizen Joseph Mpambara to life in prison for war crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994, before the new genocide clause went into effect in April this year.

In Basebya’s trial, 70 witnesses of the prosecution, mostly from Rwanda, were interrogated from the ground of the offence, Thijs Berger, the Dutch national prosecutor, told The New Times in an earlier interview.

Years ago, a Gacaca court in Gikondo, Kigali, found Basebya guilty of genocide crimes and sentenced her, in absentia, to life in prison.

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