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Prosecution demands justice for victims as Twahirwa and Berabose undergo trial

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In a courtroom in Brussels, Belgium, the trial of Seraphin Twahirwa and Pierre Basabose is in progress. The prosecution made it clear on Tuesday that the crimes allegedly committed by the accused are severe, urging for justice for the victims.

During the lengthy proceedings lasting over 6 hours, the prosecution cautioned both the defense representing the accused. They emphasized the gravity of the charges against Twahirwa and Basabose, calling for a fair decision from an impartial group.

The charges include involvement in the Genocide against the Tutsis and other war crimes, such as the rape of women. The prosecutor detailed how the accused participated in selecting individuals for the Interahamwe, distributing weapons to them, collaborating in the killing of Tutsis, providing financial support, contributing materials, and establishing roadblocks.

The court also heard the names of numerous survivors who witnessed the crimes. Twahirwa faces additional charges of raping women and encouraging gangs to do the same.

According to the prosecutor, Pierre Basabose, identified as the second-largest shareholder in Radio RTLM, played a significant role in promoting hatred and encouraging Hutus to kill Tutsis. He allegedly contributed Rwf600,000, not including shares taken from his children.

The crimes committed by the defendants have had a significant impact on the survivors, including the loss of their families, the orphans, the seriously ill, and the severely disabled.

Basabose, who was apprehended in Belgium on September 30, 2020, has faced challenges during the proceedings due to reports of declining mental health, as degenerative dementia has affected his cognitive abilities, according to reports.

Nevertheless, in June of this year, a Belgian court ruled that Basabose would stand trial, despite assertions from Belgian prosecutors that he had been diagnosed with advanced dementia.

Born in Ruhengeri prefecture, the 76-year-old Basabose is a former military officer and businessperson who once owned a prominent forex bureau in Kigali. He was also a family friend of the former president, Juvénal Habyarimana.

Furthermore, Basabose used a portion of his wealth to become the second-largest shareholder of the infamous Radio-Television Libre des Milles Collines.

Following the events of April 1994, he fled Kigali, embarking on a journey through Zaïre (now the DRC), Kenya, Kazakhstan, and Germany before arriving in Belgium.

In a similar vein, 65-year-old Twahirwa, known by the alias “Kihebe,” was arrested on September 29, 2020. He hails from the former commune of Giciye in Gisenyi prefecture and was a leader within the Interahamwe militia operating in Gikondo. 

Additionally, he is a cousin of Agathe Kanziga, the wife of former President Habyarimana. Twahirwa, like Basabose, resided near the customs depot of MAGERWA.

Following the genocide, he fled to Zaïre and eventually made his way to Belgium via Uganda. Currently, Twahirwa holds no legal residency status in Belgium.

The trial is scheduled to run from October 9 until December 8 this year, with 40 Rwandan witnesses expected to travel to Brussels to testify before the court.

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