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Rwandan deported from U.S. denies genocide charges

By Reuters | May 6th 2021
Beatrice Munyenyezi is handcuffed before leaving the court where she is facing charges related to the 1994 genocide, in Kigali, Rwanda May 5, 2021. [Reuters]

A Rwandan woman who was deported by the United States and is facing charges related to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda appeared in court on Wednesday and denied the charges against her.

Speaking in a court in the Rwandan capital on Wednesday, Beatrice Munyenyezi sobbed and said: "It's fake. I wonder why," adding that she was a pregnant teenager during the genocide and did not have the power to do any of the things she stands accused of, such as mounting roadblocks where ethnic Tutsis were then killed.

Last month, the 51-year-old woman was flown into Kigali, accompanied by U.S. federal agents. A spokesman for the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation then said on state TV that she would face seven charges related to the genocide ranging from murder to complicity in rape.

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.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, who was deported by the U.S. after serving a prison term for lying on her naturalisation application, is escorted as she leaves court. [Reuters]

Munyenyezi denied accusations of involvement in the genocide during her trial in the United States. The roadblock where she is accused of committing the crimes was situated outside a hotel in Butare that was owned by her inlaws.

Wednesday was the first time she was permitted to speak in court. The judge set the bail hearing for May 10.

Munyenyezi's mother-in-law, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, and her husband Arsène 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 U.S. 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. 

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