Skip to main content
Press Release

Rwandan Man Sentenced for Immigration Fraud and Perjury in Connection with 1994 Genocide

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A man who fled Rwanda near the end of the 1994 genocide was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for immigration fraud and perjury in connection with his application for immigration benefits in the United States. 

Jean Leonard Teganya, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Denis Saylor IV to 97 months in prison. Upon completion of his sentence, Teganya will face removal proceedings. In addition, Judge Saylor found that Teganya obstructed justice by committing perjury when he testified during trial. In April 2019, Teganya was convicted by a jury of two counts of immigration fraud and three counts of perjury.

“Mr. Teganya was convicted and sentenced for the most serious form of immigration fraud: lying about his status as a war criminal to win immigration benefits in the United States,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Based on the evidence admitted at trial, the defendant committed horrendous crimes during the Rwandan genocide and then sought to deceive U.S. immigration authorities about his past. Especially in the context of genocide, American asylum laws exist to protect the persecuted – not the persecutors.”

“The defendant committed unimaginable acts of violence and brutality,” said Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, Homeland Security Investigations, Boston. “Today’s sentencing clearly demonstrates that this nation will never be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals. Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work closely with our federal and international partners to relentlessly pursue such criminals and protect our nation’s legal immigration systems.”

The Rwandan genocide began on April 6, 1994, and lasted for a period of 100 days.  During the genocide, approximately 800,000 ethnic Tutsis were murdered, making it the deadliest genocide since the holocaust in World War II. Prior to the genocide, Teganya was enrolled as a medical student at the National University of Rwanda, in Butare. During that time, he was a member of the MRND political party, the ruling Hutu-dominated party that incited the genocide. Teganya was also a member of the Interahawme, the MRND youth wing, where he participated in martial arts and weapons training. 

During the genocide, Teganya remained at the hospital in Butare, where he led teams of soldiers and Interahamwe around the hospital to locate Tutsi patients and refugees hiding in the hospital. Once discovered, the Tutsis were taken and killed behind the maternity ward. Teganya also led teams of soldiers and Interahawme who took Tutsi women to be raped.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that Teganya participated in the murders of three Tutsi people at the hospital and four Tutsi students he discovered in the dormitory where he was living. Teganya also participated in five rapes of two Tutsi women who were hiding in the hospital.

At the end of the genocide in mid-July 1994, Teganya fled Butare, traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, India, and then Canada. In 1999, Teganya applied for asylum in Canada. Canadian authorities twice determined that Teganya was not entitled to asylum because he had been complicit in atrocities committed at the Butare hospital during the genocide. After 15 years of asylum proceedings, Teganya evaded the Canadian deportation order and fled across the border into the United States. On Aug. 3, 2014, Teganya was encountered walking on foot after he had crossed from Canada into Houlton, Maine. Teganya was taken into custody and he formally applied for asylum. On the application for asylum and withholding of removal an at an immigration hearing, Teganya made false statements by failing to disclose his membership with MRND and his activities during the genocide. 

U.S. Attorney Lelling and HSI SAC Fitzhugh made the announcement today. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. State Department and the Revere Police Department provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott L. Garland, Deputy Chief of Lelling’s Nation Security Unit, and George P. Varghese, also of the National Security Unit, prosecuted the case.

Updated July 3, 2019

National Security