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Monday, July 15, 2013

NH woman to be sentenced in Rwanda fraud case

LYNNE TUOHY,Associated Press

CONCORD (AP) - A New Hampshire woman who fled Rwanda and obtained U.S. citizenship a decade ago faces up to 10 years in prison for lying to U.S. Customs officials about her role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Beatrice Munyenyezi was convicted in federal court in February of masking her role as a "gatekeeper" at one of the notorious roadblocks where Tutsis were singled out for slaughter. ...

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CONCORD (AP) - A New Hampshire woman who fled Rwanda and obtained U.S. citizenship a decade ago faces up to 10 years in prison for lying to U.S. Customs officials about her role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Beatrice Munyenyezi was convicted in federal court in February of masking her role as a "gatekeeper" at one of the notorious roadblocks where Tutsis were singled out for slaughter.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the maximum prison sentence - 10 years - saying she's as guilty as if she wielded the machete in the killing fields of Butare.

Her lawyers intend to seek a sentence of less than a year to give the 43-year-old mother of three a better chance of avoiding being deported. They say deportation would amount to a death sentence.

Munyenyezi's first trial in 2012 ended in a mistrial, when jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict. She did not testify at either trial.

In applying for refugee status to immigrate to the U.S., Munyenyezi swore she played no role in the genocide and belonged to no political party. But Rwandan witnesses testified they saw her wearing the colors of the extremist Hutu party, the MRND, and that her husband and mother-in-law were prominent party leaders. They have both been convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda for genocide and crimes against humanity and are serving life sentences.

Munyenyezi was also convicted of lying on her application to become a U.S. citizen. She was scheduled to be sentenced Monday in the same federal courthouse where she took the oath of citizenship a decade ago.

Munyenyezi was indicted in June 2010 and held without bail until after her first trial. She was placed on house confinement in April 2012, but was again taken into custody after her conviction in February. She was also stripped of her citizenship.