Rwandan woman sentenced to life for genocide role

A Rwandan woman expelled to her homeland three years ago from the United States has been given a life sentence for her role in the country’s 1994 genocide, The New Times newspaper reported Saturday. 

A court in the southern town of Huye found Beatrice Munyenyezi guilty of the charges murder as a genocide crime, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide and complicity in rape. 

However she was acquitted on a charge of planning genocide, the Rwandan-based national paper said.

The sentencing came days after Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide carried out by the extremist Hutu regime between April and July 1994, which left more than 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, according to a UN tally.

Munyenyezi, 54, denied all the charges against her. But the court concluded she was guilty of ordering and committing murders and attacks herself, including that of a nun who was raped on her orders.

Nicknamed the “commander,” the investigation and several witness accounts said that Munyenyezi was supervising a roadblock in Huye — then called Butare — where she identified Tutsis and had them killed, and also encourag ed Hutu extremists to rape women.

She was deported in April 2021 from the United States after serving a ten-year prison sentence there for lying about her involvement in the genocide as she set about obtaining American citizenship, saying she faced persecution in her own country.

The case attracted US attention as her mother-in-law Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister in the genocidal regime, and her husband Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, a former local militia leader, were also on trial for genocide crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.

They were also sentenced to life in prison, in 2011, before their terms were reduced to 47 years on appeal.

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