Photograph — Barrie Today

Rwandan national, Jean Leonard Teganya, has been sentenced to over eight years in jail in the United States. This verdict by an American federal judge was reached after it was discovered that the convict lied to immigration officers about his role in Rwanda’s unpopular 1994 genocide.

According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), 47-year-old Teganya was convicted in April on two counts of immigration fraud and three counts of perjury.

Teganya “was convicted and sentenced for the most serious form of immigration fraud: lying about his status as a war criminal to win asylum in the United States,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said.

Lelling further explained that the evidence presented at the trial shows that the convict “committed horrendous crimes during the Rwandan genocide and then sought to deceive U.S. immigration authorities about his past.”

War crimes

At the beginning of the Rwandan genocide in April 1994, Teganya was reportedly a medical student at the National University of Rwanda. In addition, he was a member of the Hutu-controlled ruling MRND (National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development) party that incited the genocide.

Once the killings began, the DOJ statement says that Teganya led teams of soldiers and pro-government youth around the hospital to locate Tutsi patients and refugees hiding. Once they were discovered, the Tutsis were taken and killed behind the maternity ward. 

Other than being involved in the murders of seven Tutsis, Teganya participated in the rape of two women from the tribe. Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis were murdered for around 100 days in the 1994 massacre.

He then fled Rwanda, crossed Africa to India in July 1994 and eventually travelled to Canada where he applied for asylum in 1999. However, Canadian authorities “twice determined that Teganya was not entitled to asylum because he had been complicit in atrocities.”

Facing a deportation order, Teganya slipped out of Canada in 2014 and into the U.S., where he applied for asylum – and did not mention his MRND membership or his activities during the genocide.

For his immigration fraud and perjury, Teganya will be deported after completing his 97-month prison sentence, U.S. officials said.

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