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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Rwanda Woman's Immigration Case Ends in Mistrial

Associated Press: A federal judge declared a mistrial in the case of a New Hampshire woman accused of lying to obtain U.S. citizenship by denying her role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide after jurors failed to reach a verdict Thursday.

Jurors deadlocked on two counts in the case of Beatrice Munyenyezi who became a U.S. citizen in 2003 and faced deportation to Rwanda with a conviction.

Authorities said she was an extremist Hutu who killed and enabled the rapes of untold Tutsi victims - not the innocent refugee she claimed to be in 1995, when she applied for a visa and for U.S. citizenship.

To prove Munyenyezi lied on her immigration and naturalization papers, prosecutors had to convince the jury she took an active part in the genocide, contrary to sworn statements on the federal forms. Prosecution witnesses testified they saw her direct rapes and killings, but her relatives testified they never saw that, nor did they see her carry a gun or wear a military uniform. They said Munyenyezi, who was pregnant with twins at the time, mostly stayed inside the family-owned hotel that prosecutors said was the scene of the some of the brutality.

She was imprisoned and held without bail after she was charged in June 2010 with federal citizenship fraud, accused of lying about involvement in the genocide, where at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Federal prosecutors decline to say how Munyenyezi came to their attention. But in court documents, immigration agents describe interviews with alleged witnesses to the atrocities.

A federal affidavit says Munyenyezi and her husband, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, were extremist Hutus who participated in roadblocks and ID checks that resulted in numerous Tutsi rapes and killings. Ntahobali and his mother, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, were prominent defendants in the United Nations' international crimes tribunal on Rwanda, both charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. They were sentenced to life in prison last June. Ntahobali also was convicted of rape.

Munyenyezi testified as a defense witness at her husband's trial in 2006.

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