Sentence confirmed on Savanna's mother
26 January 2006, AMSTERDAM — An appeal court in The Hague has confirmed a woman's six-year sentence and followed by compulsory hospitalisation in a TBS rehabilitation clinic for the manslaughter of her three-year-old daughter Savanna in 2004.
26 January 2006
AMSTERDAM — An appeal court in The Hague has confirmed a woman's six-year sentence and followed by compulsory hospitalisation in a TBS rehabilitation clinic for the manslaughter of her three-year-old daughter Savanna in 2004.
The appeal court agreed Sonja de J., 33, from Alphen aan den Rijn was guilty of manslaughter. Savanna's step-father, Mario B. received two years in jail plus TBS for battery and causing grievous bodily harm.
The sentences were similar to those imposed by the trial court in June 2005, except that the TBS element was added to B.'s penalty.
The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) had asked the appeal court to impose eight-year terms and TBS on both, arguing they had cooperated closely on the day Savanna died.
Rejecting this, the appeal court judges said Savanna's mother had acted in a frenzy rather than in a pre-mediated way. B. wasn't even in the house when the child died.
Prosecutors took a different approach during the trial by not pressing manslaughter charges. The court was asked to impose a sentence of three years plus TBS against the mother and two years with TBS against her husband on charges of serious assault resulting in death.
But the presiding judge at the trial announced the higher sentence for De J. because the court considered the charge of manslaughter had been proven against her. The court also ruled that TBS hospitalisation was not necessary in B's case because there was little risk of re-offending was limited.
The trial heard that Savanna was subject to a brutal regime in the family home. De J. and B. locked the child up, refused her food and punished her with cold showers.
Although they beat and gagged her there was no intention to kill her, the prosecutor told the court.
According to the prosecutor, both defendants wanted to educate or punish the child because she broke the rules. Because Savanna regularly survived such treatment, they did not believe that she could die from their mistreatment.
Charges of grievous bodily harm could be pressed against the defendants, the prosecutor said, because it was intended that Savanna suffer from the punishment.
The defendants also knew they were acting inappropriately because when the family guardian assigned to protect Savanna or other social workers visited, the girl was well dressed and was never beaten or locked up in their presence.
Savanna, of Alphen aan den Rijn, died on 20 September last year after an argument with her mother. De J. was accused of pushing a face washer in the child's mouth and wrapping a bandage around it to ensure it wouldn't fall out.
The child had a cold and was seriously undernourished and probably died from a lack of oxygen.
Police arrested both defendants when they found Savanna's body in the boot of their car at night near the eastern Dutch town of Holten. It is alleged the suspects planned to bury her. Savanna's baby sister was in the car at the time.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news, Savanna