Rwandan woman in court for genocide after deportation from US
A Rwandan woman accused of brutal crimes during the 1994 genocide in her home country appeared in a Kigali court on Wednesday after being deported from the United States earlier this month.
51-year-old Beatrice Munyenyezi, a mother of three, arrived in Kigali on April 17 after serving a 10-year prison sentence in the United States for lying about her involvement in the genocide, which allowed her to obtain citizenship.
Her initial appearance was brief and her pre-trial hearing was adjourned to May 5 to allow more time for the defence to prepare.
“I did not have enough time to prepare the case because it is not possible to see my client. It is only yesterday evening that they gave us 20 minutes together to discuss the case,” her lawyer Gatera Gashabana said shortly after the hearing.
Munyenyezi is facing seven charges of genocide crimes, such as murder, conspiracy to commit genocide, rape and extermination.
According to a 2015 report by the Boston Magazine, Munyenyezi lived quietly in a working class neighbourhood in New Hampshire with her three children until a federal agent began probing her past.
The spotlight landed on her as it became known that her husband and mother-in-law — a former minister — were on trial for genocide crimes. Both were later convicted.
Her husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali was sentenced in 2013 to 47 years in jail for his role as a leader of the Interahamwe militia that committed brutal atrocities against the Tutsi in 1994.
Investigations showed that Munyenyezi, nicknamed “The Commander”, oversaw a roadblock where she would identify Tutsi and have them killed, while encouraging Hutu extremists to rape the women, including in one case, a nun.
Some 800,000 people, mainly Tutsi were beaten, hacked or shot to death in the genocide that lasted for roughly 100 days, by Hutu forces.
Edited by Olajumoke Adeleke