Prosecution seeks life sentence for Béatrice Munyenyezi, defense requests acquittal

By Esther Muhozi
On 29 February 2024 at 08:06

The prosecution has requested that Béatrice Munyenyezi, who is accused of genocide crimes, be sentenced to life imprisonment, while her defense lawyers have requested her release. This request was made on Wednesday, February 28, during a session at the High Court’s Special Chamber for International and Transboundary Crimes located in Nyanza, Southern Rwanda.

During the previous hearing, the floor was predominantly given to the defendant’s side. However, on 28th February 2024, the prosecution also had the opportunity to present its case.

The prosecution argued that based on the evidence available, Munyenyezi should be sentenced to life imprisonment for charges including planning genocide, inciting genocide, complicity in genocide, and complicity in rape as an act of genocide, all allegedly committed in the former prefecture of Butare.

Munyenyezi and her defense team, on the other hand, argued for her acquittal and release, citing that during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, she was at the Ihuriro Hotel owned by her mother-in-law Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who was then the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion.

They argued that Munyenyezi was with over 60 people at the hotel, suggesting that if crimes had been committed there, it would have been known.

The prosecution accuses her of bringing girls to the hotel for her husband Shalom Ntahobari and the Interahamwe militia to rape.

Munyenyezi denied these allegations, stating it would have been impossible for her to procure women and girls for her husband.

She further argued that the roadblocks she is accused of participating in, where Tutsis were killed, were not places she had been to, as she was at the Ihuriro Hotel, taking care of her young child and was also pregnant.

Félicien Gashema, one of the two lawyers representing Munyenyezi Béatrice, told the court that the prosecution’s request should not be granted as it has not provided sufficient evidence of the crimes her client is accused of.

He stated, "The testimony of witnesses, when corroborated, is taken as truth, but the witnesses accusing [Munyenyezi] do not agree, therefore, our client should be protected by that ."

The court’s ruling on Munyenyezi’s case, extradited by the United States, will be delivered on March 27, 2024.