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February 6, 2013

NH jury chosen for woman's Rwanda trial

CONCORD, N.H. — A federal jury was seated Tuesday in the second trial of a New Hampshire mother accused of lying about her role in the Rwanda genocide in 1994 so that she could enter the United States and become a citizen.

Lawyers for both sides are scheduled to make opening statements Wednesday before testimony in the trial of 43-year-old Beatrice Munyenyezi of Manchester. The trial is expected to last two or three weeks.

U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe instructed both sides to avoid referring to the first trial last March, when jurors deadlocked and McAuliffe declared a mistrial. Munyenyezi, a mother of three who maintains her innocence, did not testify during the previous trial. She also declined comment to the media Tuesday, as she has in the past.

McAuliffe also ordered the lawyers not to mention the convictions of her husband and his mother.

Arsene Shalom Ntahobali and his mother were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and sentenced to life in prison in June 2011 for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes of violence. Both were considered high-ranking members of the Hutu militia party that orchestrated savage attacks on members of the rival Tutsis. Ntahobali also was convicted of rape. Their convictions are on appeal.

Prosecutors say Munyenyezi, then pregnant, manned a roadblock outside of the Butare hotel owned by her husband’s family and ordered the rape and murder of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Up to 800,000 people were killed in the African country’s tribal war. Prosecutors say Munyenyezi lied when she denied having a role in the killings on applications to enter the U.S. in 1995 and to obtain citizenship in 2003.

Her attorney, Mark Howard, said Tuesday that his client feels “anxious and stressed ... But she knows she didn’t do this, and this is the process she has to go through.”

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