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Rwandan woman to stand trial in Concord on immigration charges

Woman accused of lying about role to gain US entry

CONCORD, N.H. - A federal courtroom in New Hampshire is about to become a laboratory for analyzing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and whether a Manchester immigrant played a role in it.

Prosecutors say 41-year-old Beatrice Munyenyezi of Rwanda lied on applications to enter the United States in 1995 and obtain citizenship in 2003. They say she ordered the rapes and murders of Tutsis in Butare during the three-month genocide of about 800,000 people.

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She denied any involvement.

Jury selection in the citizenship fraud trial begins tomorrow. Most of the witnesses will travel from Rwanda and speak no English.

Three Kinyarwandan interpreters have been hired and housed. Court officials will not reveal their names or how far they have traveled. The identities of the Rwandan witnesses also are sealed.

Lawyers on both sides of the case did not return calls seeking comment in the days leading up to the trial.

Many court documents are sealed, including those showing how much court-appointed lawyers David Ruoff and Mark Howard have been paid in time and expenses, including multiple trips to Rwanda to prepare for trial.

To prove Munyenyezi lied on immigration and naturalization applications, prosecutors must establish that she played a role in the slaughter of Tutsis by extremist Hutus.

If convicted, the mother of three teenage daughters faces deportation to Rwanda and the likelihood of spending the rest of her life in prison there.

In a recent court order, Chief US District Judge Steven McAuliffe described the case as a particularly complex one that will involve “navigating through a sea of bureaucratic obstacles . . . at great expense in both time and money.’’

Court documents show that elaborate steps have been taken to ensure the safety of Rwandan witnesses, including an agreement between both sides that passport applications of defense and prosecution witnesses be submitted together to the Rwandan government to mask who is testifying for which side.

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