8 February 2013

Rwanda: Munyenyezi Retrial Kicks Off in U.S.

When she applied for US citizenship, Beatrice Munyenyezi portrayed herself as a victim of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, concealing the chilling part she played in the violence, prosecutors said yesterday in a federal court.

Holding images of the Manchester woman's immigration forms before the jury, Assistant US Attorney Aloke Chakravarty told them what Munyenyezi failed to fill out: that she had manned a roadblock outside her family's hotel, checked identification cards and sent members of the Tutsi ethnic group to be either raped or slaughtered.

But her lawyers questioned why, if she was such a visible participant, her name has not come up before, not in books written about the Genocide or at the trials of her husband and mother-in-law, who were convicted in an international tribunal for organising the violence.

Munyenyezi, a mother of three, showed little response as she listened to the opening statements in US District Court in Concord.

Chakravarty advised the jury to not get sidetracked by the defence attorneys' "international conspiracy that the new witnesses in the case have been pressured to lie."

"They're going to confuse you, distract you with this idea that you can't believe anyone from Rwanda," he said. "I submit to you that this is not what this case is about."

Dr Rony Zachariah, a physician who came to Rwanda in February 1994 with an NGO, yesterday, testified, delivering an account of how he witnessed Munyenyezi supervise the killing of an old man, whose artery, he said, was severed

The judge hearing the case has stressed the need for a speedy retrial.

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