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Atrocities of Rwanda Genocide Recalled in Kansas Trial of U.S. Citizen

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

A courtroom in Kansas has become the unlikely stage for an eyewitness retelling of some of the horrific crimes that led 800,000 to perish in the central African nation of Rwanda. More than 50 witnesses from five countries have been called to testify, including some who also killed and tortured during the genocide.

In the case of U.S. vs. Lazare Kobagaya, a federal court jury will be asked to decide if the former Rwandan teacher and mill owner, now a Topeka, Kansas resident and U.S. citizen, incited local Hutu farmers to turn on their Tutsi neighbors in the turbulent days of April 1994.

Prosecutors say Kobagaya ordered the deaths of hundreds of people in the Nyakizu region of the southern Rwanda.

Testifying for the prosecution, Valens Murindangabo told of an order to kill two Tutsi teens. “‘Wipe them out, kill them,’ ” Murindangabo said Kobagaya had commanded. The boys were hacked to death with a machete, Murindangabo said, while Kobagaya watched from a few yards away.

Murindangabo, a former sixth-grade teacher, further said he had slashed the legs of a Tutsi woman so another man could bash in her head and how he had hacked a second young woman to death after she asked him for protection.

“Humanity was almost gone in me…” Murindangabo said.

The U.S. has no criminal jurisdiction over crimes committed abroad, but it can prosecute someone for lying on a naturalization form, which specifically asks applicants if they have participated in genocide.

Prosecutors say Kobagaya lied on immigration and citizenship documents, checking a box saying he had not participated in genocide. If convicted, the 84 year old Kobagaya faces deportation.

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