CONCORD — A Rwandan woman accused of playing a role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, and who in 2013 was found guilty of having lied to immigration officials, remains convicted of unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship. A judge on Thursday denied Beatrice Munyenyezi’s appeal of that unlawful procurement of citizenship conviction.
Munyenyezi, who arrived in Manchester as a refugee in 2002, was never tried for a role in the genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed in 100 days, but she was tried for lying to immigration officials.
Judge Steven J. McAuliffe wrote in his decision that Munyenyezi’s trial established beyond a reasonable doubt that she had lied on documents in support of her application for entry into the United States as a refugee.
Munyenyezi is part of the Hutu ethnic group, and has been accused of manning a roadblock during the genocide, checking identification cards and pointing out members of the Tutsi ethnic group to the Interahamwe militia, who killed between 500,000 and 800,000 people in 100 days, and raped and kidnapped more.
“The evidence at trial overwhelmingly established, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Munyenyezi was associated with the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, also known as the ‘MNRD,’ and that she oversaw one of the infamous roadblocks at which so many Tutsis were murdered,” wrote McAuliffe.
Witnesses who saw Munyenyezi at the roadblock were flown to Concord for the trial.
Vestine Nyiraminani testified that Munyenyezi stopped her and her sister at a roadblock in Rwanda in 1994 and that, after Munyenyezi saw that the sisters’ ID cards identified them as Tutsis, she ordered them to sit at the side of the road. Less than an hour later, they were marched into the woods, where Nyiraminani saw a man plunge a knife into her sister’s head before she herself escaped, Nyiraminani said.
Jean Paul Rutaganda testified to seeing Munyenyezi, whom he knew by name, checking identification cards at a roadblock.
Consolee Mukeshimana testified to seeing Munyenyezi at the roadblock, leading Tutsis to their deaths at the hands of the Interahamwe.Munyenyezi’s attorneys argued Munyenyezi did not lie to immigration officials; instead, they said, the witnesses were either lying or had mistaken Munyenyezi for another person at the roadblock.
Munyenyezi was convicted in the 2013 trial after a 2012 trial ended in a hung jury and a mistrial. After the first trial, her defense called the prosecution’s case weak, and pointed out that Munyenyezi’s name had not been brought up for 15 years after the genocide.
Munyenyezi was sentenced to 10 years in prison after the 2013 trial, and her citizenship was revoked.
Munyenyezi appealed her conviction, arguing McAuliffe — who also oversaw her 2013 trial — had given unclear instructions to the jury.
McAuliffe wrote in his decision to deny Munyenyezi’s appeal that his instructions were incomplete on one point of law, but that those instructions did not contribute to the verdict.