Letter: Munyenyezi told the truth
The good news is that 43-year-old Beatrice Munyenyezi will not be deported soon. Rwanda is a dangerous place to truth-tellers like her.
Munyenyezi was sentenced in New Hampshire’s federal district court on July 15 to 10 years in federal prison. She was stripped of U.S. citizenship after her February trial. Hers was a political trial. She was not mentioned at the trials of her husband and mother-in-law at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. She was not implicated for more than a decade. Her truth-telling in the United States actually precipitated her arrest and trial.
She came to the attention of Rwandan authorities and the FBI when she participated in protests against the authoritarian rule of President Paul Kagame. In 2008, she returned to Tanzania voluntarily to testify at her husband’s trial. She believed him innocent. Ironically, prosecutors construed this courageous act as lying. Her trial speaks to a gullible and ignorant U.S. justice system. Jurors and the judge ignored the fact that their witnesses were provided to them by the Rwandan government and trained to testify. They ignored the fact that defense witnesses would face punishment if they spoke out strongly for Munyenyezi.
Prosecutors construed a woman seeking refuge in a hotel with 60 other family members as a killer who lied about this in her immigration documents, based on graphic but invented testimony. Defense attorneys exposed many contradictions in witness testimony. Most conspicuous was the entirely different scenarios in the first and second trial. In the initial mistrial, she was alleged to have directed killings; in the second trial, prosecutors claimed that she joined an extremist party. She did neither. The MRND had been abolished in the early 1990s; before then, virtually everyone belonged to it.