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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Court of Appeals Upholds Conviction and Sentence of a Woman who Concealed her Role in Rwandan Genocide

BOSTON – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston affirmed the conviction and sentence of a Manchester woman who was convicted of procuring citizenship unlawfully.  This was the first such conviction in the nation based on concealing one’s personal participation in the Rwandan genocide.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, 45, was convicted in February 2013 following a 12-day trial of obtaining her U.S. citizenship unlawfully after fleeing her native country of Rwanda by misrepresenting material facts to U.S. Immigration authorities both before and after she arrived here.  She was sentenced in July 2013 to 10 years in prison and stripped of her U.S. citizenship.

Munyenyezi concealed her role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, including her involvement in the MRND (National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development), the political party in power before and during the genocide, and its youth wing, the Interahamwe.  In affirming Munyenyezi’s conviction and sentence, the Court of Appeals stated that the evidence at trial provided for a “bone-chilling read,” and that the jury could reasonably have concluded that Munyenyezi, “personally inspected IDs” at a roadblock in front of the Hotel Ihuriro, where Munyenyezi was living during the genocide, that she “separated those who would live from those who would die (and die gruesomely), and kept records of the ghastly-goings on,” and thereafter misrepresented these facts in order to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits.

In a separate appeal, the Court of Appeals also affirmed the conviction of Prudence Kantengwa, a/k/a Prudentienne Kantengwa, on charges of immigration fraud, perjury, and obstruction of proceedings before an immigration court.  The charges against Kantengwa stemmed from lies she told about her membership in the MRND, her husband’s role as the director of Rwandas internal security service, and her knowledge of the existence of a genocidal roadblock erected in front of the Hotel Ihuriro, where Kantengwa spent half the period of the genocide in the company of individuals subsequently convicted of genocide in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “These cases should send a strong message to all those who would seek to cheat the immigration system by lying about their background or otherwise deceiving U.S. immigration authorities.  The United States will not be a safe haven for those who conceal their past in order to gain the privilege of living in this country.”

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement.  The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aloke Chakravarty and John Capin of Ortiz’s Anti‑Terrorism Unit in the District of Massachusetts.  The appeals were handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark T. Quinlivan of Ortiz’s Appeals Unit.

Updated March 26, 2015