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Rwanda immigrant faces post-genocide fraud charges in U.S.

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
updated 2:42 AM EST, Wed February 22, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prosecutors say Munyenyezi, a Hutu, was a member of an extremist group
  • She allegedly committed visa fraud by denying her alleged involvement in the genocide
  • She denies being involved in crimes

(CNN) -- A 42-year-old immigrant from Rwanda, who is accused of lying her way into the United States after allegedly participating in the 1994 genocide that left up to 800,000 people dead, goes on trial Wednesday in a New Hampshire federal court.

Jury selection begins in the case of Beatrice Munyenyezi, who allegedly committed fraud in 1995 by denying her alleged involvement in mass rape, murder and kidnappings in Rwanda a year earlier.

Prosecutors allege Munyenyezi, who is now a U.S. citizen, intentionally lied on a refugee questionnaire and naturalization documents about her role in the infamous slaughter, in which ethnic Hutu militants butchered their Tutsi counterparts over a three-month period.

They say Munyenyezi, a Hutu, was a member of an extremist group associated with a paramilitary organization that set up roadblocks and targeted fleeing Tutsis and their sympathizers.

One of the roadblocks was set up outside the Ihuriro Hotel -- an establishment owned by her husband's family, according to the indictment.

The mother of three is allegedly married to former militia leader Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life in prison last year.

She allegedly lived in the hotel and helped pick out those who arrived at a nearby checkpoint to be executed and raped, the indictment said. She also is accused of stealing her victims' belongings.

Her attorney, Mark Howard, said his client "categorically denies that she committed any acts of genocide, or committed any crimes, as the prosecution alleges here."

Howard said that he has traveled to Rwanda to conduct interviews and acquire firsthand research in preparation for the case.

Both sides are expected to a draw from a long witness list in Rwanda, including those currently incarcerated there. Authorities have appointed three translators to assist with the potential witnesses.

If convicted, Munyenyezi could face deportation.

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