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Munyenyezi sentenced to 10 years for lying about role in genocide

Last modified: 7/15/2013 4:05:12 PM
Beatrice Munyenyezi was sentenced today to serve 10 years in prison for lying about her role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. The Manchester woman, who was convicted of immigration fraud following a February trial in Concord’s U.S. District Court, showed little response as Judge Steven McAuliffe handed down the maximum sentence and told Munyenyezi that she “stole citizenship,” possibly from someone who was deserving of that privilege.

At trial Munyenyezi’s lawyers tried to convince the jury that witnesses claiming Munyenyezi manned a roadblock and identified Tutsis who would be raped or slaughtered were lying, either under direct pressure by the Rwandan government or societal pressure to please authorities. Today, McAuliffe said he “bent over backwards” to let defense attorneys David Ruoff and Mark Howard make that case, and added that he personally “strived mightily to believe she might not have done what she’s accused of doing.”

“Perhaps the witnesses were all mistaken. Perhaps they mistook the defendant for a different Beatrice manning the roadblock,” McAuliffe said. “Perhaps the intervening years have rendered their memories weakened and unreliable. Maybe the witnesses were all corrupted.”

But the judge said that in the end he hadn’t seen any evidence that witnesses had been manipulated. Prosecutors, he said, presented a “largely unshaken” case.

“I think the facts are unavoidable,” McAuliffe said. “I think the truth is unavoidable as much as we may wish to avoid it.”

The jury convicted Munyenyezi after about four hours of deliberation. The mother of three – who applied to come to the United States as a refugee in 1995 and was naturalized in 2003 – was immediately stripped of her citizenship by McAuliffe.

Munyenyezi’s lawyers plan to appeal her conviction to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. They asked the judge today to sentence Munyenyezi to less than one year, noting in court documents that she has already served four times more than the sentence called for under guidelines in place when her crimes were committed.

Read tomorrow’s Monitor for more on this story.

(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @tricia_nadolny.)


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