Rwanda arrests woman deported from US on genocide charges

Authorities in Kigali accuse Beatrice Munyenyezi of crimes ranging from murder to complicity in rape.

Beatrice Munyenyezi was deported by the United States after serving a prison term for lying on her naturalisation application [FILE - Jim Cole/AP]

A Rwandan woman who was deported by the United States after serving a prison term for lying on her naturalisation application has been arrested upon arrival in Rwanda, where she faces seven charges related to the 1994 genocide.

Thierry Murangira, spokesman for the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation, said Beatrice Munyenyezi will be charged for crimes ranging from murder to complicity in rape, which occurred as she was manning a roadblock in the southern city of Butare.

His comments on Friday evening came after Munyenyezi, who had secured US citizenship in New Hampshire in 2003, was flown into Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, accompanied by US federal agents.

Munyenyezi denied accusations of involvement in the genocide during her trial in the US. She did not speak to waiting journalists as Rwandan police took her into custody when she arrived.

During the genocide between April and July of 1994, some 800,000 people were slaughtered, mainly from the ethnic Tutsi minority but also moderate Hutus.

The roadblock where Munyenyezi  is accused of committing the crimes was situated outside a hotel in Butare that was owned by her in-laws.

Munyenyezi’s mother-in-law, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, and her husband Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, were convicted and sentenced by the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha for their roles in the genocide.

Munyenyezi was stripped of her US citizenship and jailed for 10 years in 2013, after she was found guilty by a court of misrepresenting material facts when she secured the naturalisation.

Separately, French authorities said on Friday a Rwandan priest had been arrested on charges of providing, among other things, food to militiamen who massacred Tutsis in his church during the genocide.

Marcel Hitayezu was charged on Wednesday with genocide and being an accomplice to crimes against humanity, according to the national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office.

He was arrested at his home in Montlieu-la-Garde, southwestern France, a source close to the case told AFP news agency.

“Marcel Hitayezu denied the charges at his initial appearance before a judge,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Rwanda had sought to extradite Hitayezu but France’s Cour de Cassation, the country’s highest criminal court, in 2016 rejected the request, as it did similar requests by Kigali for others suspected of having taken part in the genocide.

French authorities had launched a probe into Rwanda’s accusations against Hitayezu in July 2019, three years after the extradition request.

“He was until Wednesday vicar to the priest at the Montlieu-la-Garde church,” the regional archdiocese told AFP.

“It’s excellent news,” Alain Gauthier, who has spent years hunting down people living in France suspected of having taken part in the genocide, told AFP on learning of the arrest.

“The church must examine how it gave responsibilities to people suspected of having taken part in the genocide,” Gauthier added.

The genocide between April and July of 1994 began after Rwanda’s Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana, with whom Paris had cultivated close ties, was killed when his plane was shot down over Kigali on April 6.

Source: News Agencies