CONCORD, NH —A woman serving a 10-year U.S. prison sentence for her lie in the 1994 Rwandan genocide to obtain U.S. citizenship, and when she lost her bid for a new trial, went to East Africa country deported and is likely to be prosecuted there.
Beatrice Munyenyezi, who according to a US judge was ‘actively involved’ in the murder of Tutsis in Rwanda, was convicted and sentenced in 2013 in New Hampshire. This was her second trial; the first jury could not rule. Munyenyezi served a ten-year sentence in Alabama and was deported.
She lost her latest court battle in March, when the 1st U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a federal district judge’s rejection of her petition, confirming the manner the jury ordered during her trial in federal court in New Hampshire.
Her lawyer, Richard Guerriero, confirmed in an email on Saturday that Munyenyezi had been deported to Rwanda. She arrived there on Friday and was handed over to Rwandan authorities, according to state-run media.
“Her deportation means a lot in terms of justice to genocide victims,” Rwanda investigating bureau spokesman Thierry Murangira was quoted as saying by The New Times.
According to Rwandan investigators, Munyenyezi is accused of seven crimes related to the genocide, including murder and complicity in rape. She will be detained as investigations continue and her case is sent to prosecutors, the newspaper reported.
In the United States, Munyenyezi was convicted of lying about her role as commander of one of the infamous barriers where Tutsis were singled out for slaughter. She denies involvement with any political party, despite the leading role of her husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, in the extremist Hutu militia party.
She requested a new trial based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that came in 2017, well after her sentencing, and limited the government’s ability to deprive citizens of immigrants who lied during the naturalization process.
Munyenyezi alleges that the jury gave inaccurate instructions about her criminal liability. A judge rejected her request, saying the mistake was harmless, even if the order failed.
As part of her appeal, Munyenyezi’s trial attorneys, who are now judges of the court in New Hampshire, said in court documents that they would have presented Munyenyezi’s case differently if the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling during her trial had been law.
They added that they were of the opinion that the verdict would have been different if the jury had ordered on the basis of the court decision.
“After serving her sentence and losing her appeal, she was removed from the country,” Guerriero said in a statement. “It is possible that a further challenge may be filed for her conviction despite her removal.”
Munyenyezi fled with a young daughter to Nairobi, Kenya, in July 1994 in the waning days of the genocide. She gave birth to twin girls there four months later. She entered the United States as a refugee and settled in Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire.
She got a $ 13-hour job at the city housing authority and earned a fellow degree from a university. She financed a comfortable lifestyle through mortgages, loans and credit cards, but filed for bankruptcy in 2008, dropping debts of about $ 400,000.
Ntahobali and his mother have been convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and are serving life sentences. Both are considered high-ranking members of the Hutu militia party, which organized the attacks on Tutsis.
U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe, who sentenced her, said Munyenyezi “was not a mere spectator.”
He added, “I find that this accused was actively involved, actively involved in the mass murder of men, women and children, simply because they were Tutsis.”
McAuliffe acknowledged that Munyenyezi has led a crime-free and productive life since her arrival in New Hampshire, but said it is a life lived under false pretenses.
By Kathy McCormack