LITTLETON, N.H. - A Rwandan immigrant in New Hampshire was stripped of her U.S. citizenship on Thursday after she was found guilty of lying on immigration forms about her role her central African homeland's genocide.
A federal judge in Concord, New Hampshire revoked the citizenship of Beatrice Munyenyezi, 42, of Manchester, N.H. The move came shortly after a federal jury convicted her of failing to disclose on U.S. visa applications her membership in Rwanda's ruling MRND party that helped carry out the 1994 genocide, which left an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead.
Munyenyezi, who has been in the United States since 1998, faces up to 10 years in U.S. prison when she is sentenced in June, followed by deportation to Rwanda, where she could face local charges.
Her conviction comes after an effort to prosecute her on the same charges last March ended in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked.
During the earlier trial, the government presented Rwandan witnesses who testified that Munyenyezi, who was pregnant at the time, had been a militia commander in the southern town of Butare who oversaw the mass rape and slaughter of dozens of ethnic Hutus and personally executed a nun.
Prosecutors changed their strategy for the second trial and brought in new witnesses who testified that Munyenyezi was an active member of the party that carried out much of the killing but did not kill or order deaths herself, said David Ruoff, Munyenyezi's lawyer.
"That took a lot of steam out of our defense," said Ruoff. "Most of our defense was geared towards these wild accusations that she was a genocide commander."
Defense lawyers argued Rwandan witnesses for the prosecution had manufactured testimony about Munyenyezi's alleged crimes at the behest of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's government, which ended the genocide when it took power in 1994 following a civil war.
Human rights groups have accused Kagame's government of using genocide allegations to silence political opponents as retribution for those who testify for defendants in genocide cases.
Munyenyezi had testified for her husband, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2006. Ntahobali was later convicted by the tribunal of helping lead the genocide in Butare.
She also had links to others convicted on genocide charges. Her mother-in-law, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, was also convicted of war crimes by the tribunal. Last year her sister, Prudence Kantengwa, was convicted on federal charges in Boston of lying under oath during immigration proceedings about her links to the MRND.