On Saturday, her lawyer said that a woman who had served a 10-year sentence in a US prison for lying about her role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in order to obtain US citizenship and having lost an application for a new trial was deported to Rwanda.
Beatrice Munynezi was convicted and sentenced in 2013 in the US state of New Hampshire. She served a 10-year sentence in Alabama and was deported.
She lost her last trial in March, when the U.S. District Court of Appeals upheld a federal district judge’s decision to reject her petition, challenging how the jury was instructed during her trial in federal court in New Hampshire.
“Yes, it did happen,” her lawyer Richard Guerriero wrote in an email Saturday when asked if Munynezi had been deported to Rwanda. He said he believed she arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Friday.
Munyenezi was found guilty of lying about her role as commander of one of the infamous roadblocks at which the Tutsis were selected for assassination. She denied affiliation with any political party, despite her husband’s leadership in the extremist Hutu militia.
She demanded a new trial based on a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court ruling restricting the government’s ability to revoke citizenship of immigrants who lied during the naturalization process.
Munienesi argued that the jury had been given inaccurate instructions regarding her criminal responsibility. The judge denied her request, stating that even if the instructions were not true, the error was beyond reasonable doubt harmless.
As part of her appeal, Munyenezi’s lawyers, who are now just New Hampshire High Court judges, said in court documents that they would have presented Munyenezi’s case differently if the US Supreme Court decision had been legal during her trial.
They added that, in their opinion, if the jury had given instructions on the basis of the court’s decision, “the sentence might have been different.”
At the time, her lawyers portrayed her as a victim of lies by Rwandan witnesses who had never accused her of nearly two decades of investigations and trials before, even as they testified against her husband and his mother before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
US prosecutors said Munyenyesi was not entitled to a new trial and could have advanced a similar legal argument at the time because it had been raised in other cases. But her lawyers said they were unaware that other lawyers had raised the issue.
In a 2017 US Supreme Court case, a Serb who emigrated from Bosnia to the United States lied about her reasons for fearing persecution, her husband’s service in the Bosnian army, and his role in killing thousands of Bosnian Muslim civilians.
She asked for instructions to the jury that her citizenship could be revoked if the government proves that her lies influenced the decision to grant her citizenship. The court refused to do so, but the Supreme Court overturned this decision.