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US woman gets 10yrs in Rwanda fraud case

16 July 2013, 12:06

Concord - A woman who lied about her role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide to enter the US and obtain citizenship has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Beatrice Munyenyezi received the maximum prison time. She declined her right to address the court.

Munyenyezi, aged 43, was convicted in February of entering the United States and securing citizenship by lying about her role as a commander of one of the notorious roadblocks where Tutsis were singled out for slaughter. She denied affiliation with any political party, despite her husband's leadership role in the extremist Hutu militia party.

During the genocide, at least 500 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in a campaign of mass murder orchestrated by Hutu extremists.

Federal prosecutors had sought the maximum prison sentence, saying Munyenyezi is as guilty as if she wielded the machete herself.

Munyenyezi's lawyers say they will appeal her conviction — a move that is expected to delay deportation proceedings.

Munyenyezi entered the US in 1998 as a refugee. She was indicted in 2010 and has spent most of these three years in custody.

Her lawyers portrayed her as the victim of lies by Rwandan witnesses who never before had implicated her through nearly two decades of investigations and trials — even when testifying against her husband and his mother before the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda.

Munyenyezi's husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, and his mother were convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes of violence and are serving life sentences. Both were deemed to be high-ranking members of the Hutu militia party that orchestrated the savage attacks on Tutsis.

- AP


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