Munyenyezi arraigned in court for trial in substance

On 19 juillet 2022 at 03:26

Béatrice Munyenyezi who is facing charges linked to her role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and crimes against humanity has been arraigned in Huye Intermediate Court for trial in substance.

Munyenyezi appeared before the court on Tuesday 19th July 2022 around 9:00 a.m. with combed hair, wearing inmates’ uniform, sandals and glasses.

As the trial began, her defence lawyer requested the court to allow her client to stand trial sitting down citing sickness reasons and responded in favour.

The Prosecution told the court that Munyenyezi is facing charges including manslaughter as Genocide crime, preparation of Genocide, direct or indirect mobilization to perpetrate Genocide, conspiracy during Genocide, extermination as a crime against humanity.

She was deported to Rwanda on 16th April 2021 from the United States of America (USA).

It is suspected that Munyenyezi committed the crimes in former Commune Ngoma, Butare Prefecture currently in Huye District of Southern Province.

Her defence lawyers include Bruce Bikotwa and Gashema.

The Prosecution has revealed that Munyenyezi is the wife of Arsène Shalom Ntahobali and daughter-in-law of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the former Minister of Family and Women’s Affairs during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Prosecution alleged that Munyenyezi and her husband along with her mother-in-law controlled roadblocks including the one mounted near Ihuriro Hotel which sheltered Nyiramasuhuko.

She has been accused of attending and leading meetings organized to plan for the killings of targeted Tutsi victims.

The Prosecution accused Munyenyezi of killing a nun who resided in Tumba using a pistol. He was also accused of having arrested Tutsi girls at roadblocks and ordering Interahamwe to rape them.

According to the Prosecution, a witness identified Jean Damascène Munyaneza alias Saddam testified that Munyenyezi was at a roadblock at Mukoni in 1994 when she went to a nearby place where Tutsis were being killed and saw an Interahamwe identified as Lambert Habyarimana raping a nun.

As the Prosecution said, Munyenyezi took a pistol and shot the nun on the head after telling Munyenyezi that they would be held accountable.

Another witness identified as Jean Paul Rutiganda is also said to have told the Prosecution that Munyenyezi shot dead the nun after enduring rape.

Munyenyezi rejected the charges claiming that she didn’t go to any roadblock because she was a pregnant mother taking care of another kid.

The suspect said that witnesses don’t know the person being accused because they revealed, she was studying at the National University of Rwanda yet she has not completed secondary school.

Munyenyezi said that the two witnesses provide contradictory statements because one accuses her of having killed the nun in an underground section of a hotel while another claims that she killed her at a roadblock at Mukoni.

“It is clear that they don’t know what they say. I don’t know why they are telling lies about me,” she said.

Her defence lawyers have told the court that the Prosecution does not present tangible evidences proving that Munyenyezi had a role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

They insisted that the names of the nun Munyenyezi is alleged to have killed are not mentioned, which is among reasons pushing them to consider witnesses’ statements as false.

The defence lawyers also said that witnesses’ statements are contradictory, proving that they don’t know Munyenyezi.

They also argued that birth certificates of Munyenyezi and her children indicate that their client was pregnant and had another kid in 1994.

“She was in her last days of pregnancy that she could not take a gun to hunt Tutsis.”

The defence lawyers said that there are other cases of people from Butare including her husband Arsène Shalom Ntahobali tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in which Munyenyezi provided testimonies.

When asked how she was invited as a witness yet she was not able to leave her house due to pregnancy, defence lawyers revealed that Munyenyezi went to provide testimonies regarding how her husband did not hunt Tutsis because he was suffering from Malaria.

The Prosecution has objected that making disclosure of her pregnancy is not enough to sanitize Munyenyezi because there are no medical reports confirming that she was in critical condition.

It was also highlighted that it is normal to have testimonies as per legal provisions and asked Munyenyezi to prove them wrong.

On her education status, the Prosecution said that it is apparent that Munyenyezi was in secondary school where proving that she was a student at the time is enough.

Prosecutors explained that defence lawyers do not present details of testimonies provided at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to prove how they are contradictory.

They also maintained that not knowing the names of killed nun is not enough to prove that witnesses are wrong.

On the charge of conducting mobilization to perpetrate Genocide, the Prosecution alleged that Munyenyezi attended a meeting held at a playground in Rango where she held a speech and told people that Tutsis are enemies who had attacked the country.

The Prosecution said that more witnesses accused Munyenyezi of having provided grenades to kill Tutsis at a roadblock mounted at Nkubi, issued instructions to Interhamwe to kill a child and arrest Tutsis at a roadblock nearby Ihuriro Hotel and kill them.

Munyenyezi has said that she had no powers to give instructions to Interahamwe.

She also denied having handed over girls to Interahamwe to be raped and attendance of the meeting in Rango.

Her defence lawyers also defended her clients’ objections claiming that witnesses provided false testimonies because they do not prove how they are reliable.

Even though Munyenyezi was not tried by Gacaca courts, the Prosecution indicated that testimonies pinning her were provided by survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and perpetrators.

Munyenyezi has however claimed that being a daughter-in-law of Nyiramasuhuko didn’t grant her powers of attending meetings and mobilizing the killings of Tutsis.

Defence lawyers said that there are witnesses from Butare convicted of Genocide crimes who revealed that they do not know Munyenyezi and argued that there are no evidences pinning her.

Munyenyezi denied alleged charges as she appeared before Huye Intermediate Court.