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Rwandan convicted of lying about genocide link to get U.S. entry

May 08, 2012|By Tina Susman
  • Skulls of victims of Rwanda's 1994 genocide are displayed at a memorial in the central African nation. A Boston federal jury Monday convicted a Rwandan woman of lying about her membership in the political party implicated in the killings to gain entry to the United States.
Skulls of victims of Rwanda's 1994 genocide are displayed at a memorial… (Steve Terrill / AFP/Getty…)

A Rwandan woman living in Boston has been convicted of immigration fraud for concealing her membership in Rwanda's ruling party during that country's 1994 genocide so that she could gain entry to the United States. Her sister faces similar charges in New Hampshire.

The trial of Prudence Kantengwa, 47, concluded in a Boston courtroom Monday. Meanwhile, her sister, Beatrice Munyenyezi, is in a New Hampshire jail waiting for her second trial on immigration fraud charges to begin. In March, a New Hampshire jury deadlocked on charges against Munyenyezi, 42, who has been accused of covering up her participation in the Rwandan genocide so she could move to the United States. Her next trial is expected to begin in the fall.

Unlike Munyenyezi, Kantengwa was not accused of active participation in the killing of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus; the genocide left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the central African nation. Instead, Kantengwa was charged with lying about her membership in the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, the ruling political party whose hard-line members were accused of orchestrating the genocide.

Munyenyezi's husband and mother-in-law were convicted of taking part in the genocide by a special criminal tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, last year and are in prison there. Munyenyezi, who has lived in the United States since 1998 and who became a U.S. citizen in 2003, testified for the defense in that case.

She and her sister have maintained their innocence during the genocide and deny allegations they lied to gain entry to the United States. 

A federal jury convicted Kantengwa of fraud in immigration documents, visa fraud, perjury during testimony before an immigration judge and obstruction of administrative proceedings. She faces up to 15 years in prison and fines on all of the charges, according to a government statement announcing the conviction.

Prosecutors alleged Kantengwa entered the United States in 2004 with a visa obtained by providing false information on her application, and then lied to immigration officials so she could stay in the country.

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tina.susman@latimes.com


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