A New Hampshire federal judge sentenced a Rwandan woman to 10 years in prison for unlawfully procuring her citizenship in what prosecutors said was the first conviction based on concealing participation in Rwandan genocide.
District of New Hampshire Judge Stephen J. McAuliffe sentenced Beatrice Munyenyezi on Monday. Munyenyezi, 43, is an ethnic Hutu whose husband was convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2011.
According to testimony and evidence during the 12-day trial, Munyenyezi concealed her role in the 1994 genocide, including membership in a youth wing of a political party that murdered Tutsi people. Witnesses testified that Munyenyezi worked at a roadblock where most who were not allowed to pass were killed.
Her first trial ended with a deadlocked jury in March 2012 in a trial that reportedly cost the government $3 million for investigations and to transport dozens of witnesses from central Africa.
Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz issued a formal statement: “Today’s sentence should send a clear message to those involved in human rights violations that the United States will not protect those who take advantage of our accepting borders.”
District of Massachusetts anti-terrorism unit special assistant U.S. attorneys Jon Capin and Aloke Chakravarty tried the government’s case.
Munyenyezi’s lead lawyer David Ruoff of Howard & Ruoff in Manchester, N.H., said the defense seriously considered asking for the maximum sentence in light of the fact that Munyenyezi probably would have been quickly removed to Rwanda had she been sentenced to time served.
“It’s not really surprising and frankly not all that bad,” he said. “It keeps Ms. Munyenyezi in the country for 10 years and allows her children to have access to her.”
Even so, Ruoff said that he would file an appeal.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.