Jury convicts Rwandan of lying about genocide to enter U.S.

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A year after her first trial ended without a verdict, a Rwandan-born woman was convicted by a second jury Thursday of lying about her role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide to gain entry to the United States.

A judge immediately stripped 43-year-old Beatrice Munyenyezi of her citizenship, 10 years after she was granted it in the same Concord, N.H., courthouse where her two trials took place. Munyenyezi became the fourth member of her family to be convicted of crimes stemming from Rwanda’s 1994 political turmoil and genocide, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead across the East African nation.

Last year, Munyenyezi’s sister, Prudence Kantengwa, was convicted by a jury in Boston of immigration fraud for having lied about her membership in Rwanda’s once-ruling political party to gain entry to the United States. Kantengwa was not accused of taking part in the genocide, but Munyenyezi’s husband and mother-in-law were convicted of participating in mass killings, rapes and other atrocities in 2011 by a special tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania.


Munyenyezi came to the United States in 1998 and became a U.S. citizen five years later after settling in New Hampshire, where she bought a home and raised three daughters. She denied taking part in the genocide, but prosecutors called witnesses who said they recalled Munyenyezi working at a roadblock outside the hotel run by her husband and mother-in-law, nabbing would-be victims as they tried to pass.

“Beatrice said they should take us to go get killed,” the final prosecution witness, Vincent Sibomana, testified Feb. 14, the day before the state rested its case. Sibomana said that Munyenyezi, a member of Rwanda’s Hutu majority, singled him out because she recognized him as being one of the country’s minority Tutsis. Tutsis and moderate Hutus were the main targets of the genocide, which lasted about three months.

Other witnesses also testified that they remembered Munyenyezi standing at the roadblock in the city of Butare, asking to see people’s ID cards as they passed to determine if they were Tutsis or Hutus.

The defense produced witnesses who said they never saw Munyenyezi manning the roadblock, and defense attorney Mark Howard said the prosecution witnesses felt pressured to testify because they feared repercussions from Rwanda’s government if they did not speak out against Munyenyezi. The country’s president, Paul Kagame, led the rebel army that overthrew the Hutu-led government in charge during the genocide.

Munyenyezi did not testify in either trial, but she testified for the defense in the trial of her husband and mother-in-law, who are serving life sentences. Munyenyezi faces 10 years in prison when she is sentenced in June, followed by deportation.



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