Judge Upholds 10-Year Prison Sentence for ‘Monster Next Door’

A federal appeals court calls the story of Beatrice Munyenyezi's role in the Rwandan genocide ‘bone chilling.’
rwanda sq

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF BRIAN ANDERSEN for “The Monster Next Door”

Following a Boston magazine investigation into the case of fraudster Beatrice Munyenyezi, a federal appeals court upheld her 10-year prison sentence, calling testimony in the case of the Rwandan native who lied to immigration officials about her involvement in the 1994 genocide “a bone-chilling read.”

In a harshly worded ruling, the First Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Munyenyezi’s conviction was justified, writing, “A rational jury could conclude that Munyenyezi lied on her [immigration form]—using “no” answers to hide her Interahamwe membership, her role in persecuting Tutsis, and her penchant for peddling untruths to get into America.”

A Hutu by birth, Munyenyezi fled Rwanda following the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and applied for U.S. refugee status in 1995. On her application, when asked whether she had any involvement in the killings, Munyenyezi wrote, “No,” and was allowed to enter the country, later becoming a U.S. citizen. She and her three daughters soon made a life for themselves in New Hampshire. Years later, however, her past returned to haunt her.

“Now meet Beatrice Munyenyezi, a Hutu from Rwanda,” wrote appeals court Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson. “She spent the genocide months (pregnant with twin girls) living at the Hotel Ihuriro in Butare, Rwanda—a hotel managed by her husband, Shalom Ntahobali, and owned by her mother-in-law, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. Ntahobali and Nyiramasuhuko were no ordinary hoteliers, however. He was an Interahamwe leader who manned a notorious roadblock in front of the hotel. She was a high-powered minister in Rwanda’s MRND government who kicked-off the killing frenzy there by telling the party’s devotees that all Tutsi ‘cockroaches’ must die.”

Witnesses from Rwanda testified that Munyenyezi checked IDs at the roadblock and was involved in an untold number of murders.

Munyenyezi’s lawyers had argued, according to the appeals court’s 26-page opinion, that Munyenyezi “thinks the sentence is too long,” and that her lengthy prison term was based on the allegations that she was a genocidaire and not that she had lied to immigration officials in order to become a citizen. However, the appeals court scoffed at the notion, saying that the sentence was well within the guidelines.

In a separate decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld the conviction and 21-month sentence of Munyenyezi’s sister, Prudence Kantengwa, a former Suffolk University law student who also lied to immigration officials that she was not involved in the genocide even though her husband was head of the Hutu internal security forces. Federal investigators began looking into Kantengwa’s case in 2007, which led them to Munyenyezi, the monster next door.




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