US & Canada

Rwanda woman jailed in US for lying about genocide role

Beatrice Munyenyezi leaves the Federal Court in Concord, NH 12 April 2012
Beatrice Munyenyezi has refused interviews and did not testify at her sentencing hearing

A woman who lied about her role in Rwanda's genocide to gain refugee status in the US has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, who has been in the US since 1998, once commanded a roadblock where victims were picked to be murdered, prosecutors said.

She was convicted in February of lying to federal authorities.

After she serves her US sentence, Munyenyezi will be deported to Rwanda where genocide charges could await her.

An estimated 800,000 people, mostly from the minority Tutsi ethnic group, were killed in Rwanda in 1994.

Munyenyezi is said to be the first person to be convicted in the US over the genocide.

She wept as she was sentenced on Monday in Concord, New Hampshire, to the maximum term possible.

During the hearing, Judge Stephen McAuliffe said Munyenyezi had "stolen the highly prized status of US citizenship".

As the genocide was ending in July 1994, she fled to Kenya, where she gave birth to twins.

She later entered the US as a refugee and settled in the north-eastern state of New Hampshire with the aid of relief agencies.

She attended university and worked in a city government office.

But witnesses said that she had been a commander of a roadblock in the southern Rwandan city of Butare, where Tutsis were singled out to be killed.

Defence lawyers plan to appeal Munyenyezi's conviction.

Her husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, and his mother are both serving life sentences in Rwanda, where they were convicted of genocide charges.

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