Beatrice Munyenyezi sentenced in New Hampshire court over Rwanda genocide

Beatrice Munyenyezi, currently a resident of New Hampshire, is convicted of lying about her role in the genocide in her application for American citizenship.

Human skulls rest in the vestibule of the Nyarubuye Church near Kibuye, Rwanda. In 1994, thousands of ethnic Tutsis took refuge in the church only to be slaughtered by Interahamwe militia. (Steve Terrill/GlobalPost)

A New Hampshire woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday for lying about her role in the Rwandan genocide.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, 43, a native of Rwanda, was convicted in February of entering the United States and receiving citizenship under false pretenses, after lying about manning a roadblock that stopped Tutsis who were being singled out for murder.

She had initially said she did not take part in the murders, nor was her husband part of an extremist Hutu militia that killed ethnic Tutsis.
The New Hampshire judge gave her the maximum sentence and said that the United States could not be a haven for those who kill out of hatred and ignorance.

"She was not a mere spectator," the judge said.

"I find this defendant was actively involved, actively participated, in the mass killing of men, women and children simply because they were Tutsis."
Munyenyezi was said to have lived a crime-free life since her arrival in the country in 1998. The judge said she had stole a slot for a deserving refugee and that her life was lived in the country under false pretenses.

She has subsequently been stripped of her citizenship and, after serving her time, will be deported to Rwanda.

The defence lawyers said they would appeal the conviction — a move that might help buy time before she has to leave.

The Associated Press reported that Munyenyezi had taken the oath of citizenship in the same courthouse that she was sentenced. She reportedly remained stoic in the courtroom where her daughters looked on, but began to weep midway through the hearing.

She has remained silent since she was indicted in 2010, refusing to testify, while witnesses portrayed her as a violent participant in genocide.

Her defense team claimed that the witnesses were lying about her role.

Both her husband and mother had been convicted of genocide. Her sister was already convicted of lying about her role in the genocide by a US court.

According to the Associated Press, Munyenyezi had arrived in the US via Kenya where she fled with her children in the last days of the 1994 genocide.

She filed as a refugee in the US and was helped by NGOs arriving and settling in New England. She got a job and financed a new life with credit cards, due to which she eventually filed for bankruptcy.