Saturday, March 24, 2012

USA: Rwandan official criticizes mistrial

By  / Monitor staff
Concord Monitor
March 23, 2012

"Rwanda's top prosecutor sharply criticized the United States after a federal judge declared a mistrial in the case of Beatrice Munyenyezi, accusing officials of failing to bring the Manchester woman to justice, according to a Rwandan newspaper.

"We have got to denounce the handling of genocide cases in such a demeaning manner," Rwanda's prosecutor general, Martin Ngoga, told The New Times, an English-language newspaper in Rwanda.

He said his office would ask American officials to clarify their next step in the case.

"The whole thing is very disappointing," he told the newspaper, which reported his comments Monday.

Federal prosecutors wouldn't comment yesterday on whether they plan to retry Munyenyezi, whose case ended in a mistrial last week after jurors couldn't reach a decision on charges she lied to immigration officials about participating in the Rwandan genocide.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty said yesterday prosecutors have decided how they plan to handle the case but won't disclose their intentions until a court hearing in the coming weeks.

Munyenyezi, who came to the United States as a refugee in 1998 and became a citizen five years later, has been held without bail since her arrest on naturalization fraud charges in 2010.

She has never faced charges from Rwandan prosecutors, though her husband and mother-in-law were found guilty of genocide by an international court.

But her attorneys suggested the Rwandan government played a role in her case by giving the witnesses against Munyenyezi incentive to lie.

During cross-examination, they asked prosecution witnesses why they had never before accused Munyenyezi of giving orders to rape and kill Tutsis at a roadblock she manned during the genocide.

In his comments to The New Times, Ngoga was dismissive of genocide prosecutions by Western countries, some of which "can't just understand the gravity of cases before them," he told the newspaper.

"We have, in the past, applauded trials abroad because we thought they would substitute extradition," he told The New Times. "But this isn't happening; some countries have abused this process."

A hearing has not yet been scheduled to determine the status of Munyenyezi's case. Her attorneys asked the court yesterday to also schedule a hearing to review her bail conditions, arguing the trial cast new doubt on the credibility of the witnesses against her." 

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