US woman charged in Rwanda genocide case freed from prison

Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:28pm GMT
 

By Jason McLure

LITTLETON, N.H., April 12 (Reuters) - A New Hampshire woman accused of lying about her role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide was released from prison on Thursday, nearly a month after her immigration fraud trial ended in a mistrial.

Beatrice Munyenyezi, 41, walked out of federal prison in New Hampshire after spending 21 months behind bars following her arrest for allegedly failing to disclose on immigration forms she had participated in killings and other war crimes during the genocide that left 800,000 dead in the central African nation. She has denied any involvement in genocide.

A federal jury deadlocked in the case after defense lawyers argued Rwandan witnesses had manufactured testimony about Munyenyezi's alleged crimes at the behest of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's government.

"She's very excited, she gets to stay at home with her daughters tonight," said David Ruoff, a lawyer for Munyenyezi. "She's still in a little bit of shock and I don't think it will sink in for a day or so."

Prosecutors have said they will bring Munyenyezi's case to trial again in September, and declined to comment on her release.

Munyenyezi, who was freed without bail, was ordered confined to her home and must wear an electronic monitoring device.

Munyenyezi's husband and mother-in-law were arrested more than a decade ago and put on trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania, where they were sentenced to life in prison on genocide charges.

But the United States granted Munyenyezi asylum in 1998 after she swore that she had never been involved in genocide. Prosecutors said those statements amounted to immigration fraud.

Once settled in the United States, Munyenyezi moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where she worked for the city's housing authority and later as a nurse's aide.

If convicted at her retrial this autumn, she faces up to 10 years in prison. She also could lose her U.S. citizenship and be deported to Rwanda, where she could face other charges. (Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Peter Cooney)

 
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