Rwanda genocide trial begins in The Hague

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The 65-year old Yvonne Ntacyobatabara was living quietly with her husband in the southern Dutch province of Limburg when, in 2010, she was arrested on suspicion of genocide. She is accused of leading a group of young men in the mass murder of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. Her trial begins today in a court in The Hague.

Ntacyobatabara has had Dutch nationality since 2004 and, according to the Public Prosecutor’s office, she is one of a number of Rwandans living in the Netherlands who may be guilty of war crimes. She denies all the charges. Her lawyer Victor Koppe claims the evidence against her is unreliable and that she in fact sheltered Tutsi children in her home near the capital Kigali while the genocide was taking place.

More than 70 witnesses are expected to testify during the case which has taken many months to prepare. Both prosecutors and defence lawyers have travelled many times to Rwanda, and interviewed witnesses all around the world, including in America, South Africa, Switzerland, Malawi and Kenya.

Yvonne Ntacyobatabara is the first Dutch citizen to face genocide charges. The trial will take two months with a ruling not expected until 2013.