A Rwandan woman living in New Hampshire was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Monday for obtaining her U.S. citizenship unlawfully by lying about her role in the 1994 genocide in her central African homeland.
Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, who has been in the United States since 1998, failed to disclose during her citizenship application that she had been a member of Rwanda’s ruling MRND party, which helped carry out the killing of some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
“She has stolen the highly prized status of U.S. citizenship,” District Court Judge Stephen McAuliffe said in a statement issued by the Department of Justice. “The defendant personally participated in the killing of men, women and children, merely because they were called Tutsi.”
Munyenyezi was convicted of lying to federal authorities and stripped of her citizenship earlier this year. She will be deported to Rwanda – where she could face additional charges – after she serves her sentence in the United States.
During her trial, witnesses testified that Munyenyezi staffed a roadblock outside her home where she checked IDs and decided who would be allowed to pass, and who would be detained pending almost certain death.
Munyenyezi had testified for her husband, Ars?ne Shalom Ntahobali before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2006. Ntahobali was convicted by the tribunal of helping lead the genocide in the southern Rwandan town of Butare.
She also had links to others convicted on genocide charges. Her mother-in-law, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, was convicted of war crimes by the tribunal and last year her sister, Prudence Kantengwa, was convicted on federal charges in Boston of lying under oath during immigration proceedings. (Writing by Richard Valdmanis; editing by Christopher Wilson)