Saturday, 23 February 2013

US court finds Munyenyezi guilty


Munyenyezi leaves Federal Court last year.
The United States Federal Court yesterday found Beatrice Munyenyezi guilty of having lied on immigration forms about her role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Munyenyezi was immediately stripped of her citizenship and sent to jail. She will be sentenced in June. She’s facing a possible 10 years imprisonment followed by deportation.

The umbrella body of the Genocide survivors’ association Ibuka welcomed the development and requested for her extradition.

“This shows how some countries are committed to delivering justice to the people irrespective of their origin. The US has found her guilty, our wish is to have her extradited to Rwanda and stand trial for her crimes but if that is not possible, we would wish the US to take the same course like Norway in the case of Sadi Bugingo and try her from there,” said  Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of Ibuka.

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Jean De Dieu Mucyo, said that it’s not a surprise that the US took that decision.

“We opt for one thing, and that is to deport her, we have a competent judiciary and she will be accorded a fair trial if she is deported. It is important to recognise the US’s efforts in deporting genocide suspects because, up to now, they are the leading example,” said Mucyo.

Since 2005, the US has deported three people to Rwanda and those include Enos Kagaba, who was deported in 2005, tried by Gacaca and jailed for life Jean Marie Vianney Mudahinyuka alias Zuzu who arrested in USA in 2011 and returned to Rwanda as well as Marie Claire Mukeshimana who was also deported on charges of Genocide.

On the implications of revoking Munyenyezi’s citizenship, the Dean of Faculty of Law at the National University of Rwanda, Dr. Emmanuel Ugirasebuja, said a lot of things may happen as a result of the court decision, including trying her from US or deporting her.

“Everything relies on whether she appeals or not but if the US court upholds the decision, she will be deported because at the moment she is considered stateless. However, under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction American courts can decide to try her from there,” said Ugirasebuja.

Concord Monitor reported that US District Court presiding Judge Steven McAuliffe immediately revoked her citizenship.

“The defendant’s certificate of naturalisation is hereby declared cancelled,” McAuliffe said.

The judge also ordered that Munyenyezi, who has been on house arrest since a first trial in her case ended with a hung jury last March, be taken back into custody.

Also, media reports indicate that it took the jury four hours to arrive on a decision of revoking Munyenyezi’s citizenship.

During the trial prosecutors described Munyenyezi as a piece in the “machinery” of Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, saying she did not carry out the killings but was just as guilty of those crimes because she helped identify Tutsis to be slaughtered at a roadblock outside of her family’s hotel in the former Butare prefecture

She was described as an active member of then ruling political party National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) that ordered the massacre of Tutsis, and several witnesses described seeing her in that party’s clothing.

And while prosecutors made it clear that Munyenyezi shouldn’t be found guilty by association, prosecutors did stress her political connections as witnesses testified that her mother-in-law was a high-ranking cabinet minister and her husband was leader of the local youth militia.

Munyenyezi is the wife of Arsene Shalom Ntahobari, a former militia leader in the genocidal regime, who, together with his mother, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, were convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). They were sentenced to life in prison.   


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