Ex-Goucher teacher held in Rwanda

Lin­guist ac­cused of par­tic­i­pat­ing in geno­cide

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Tim Pru­dente tpru­dente@balt­sun.com

A lin­guist who taught French at Goucher Col­lege re­mains de­tained on charges of geno­cide at Ki­gali Cen­tral Prison in his na­tive Rwanda, a spokesman for Rwan­dan pros­e­cu­tors said.

Rwan­dan au­thor­i­ties had pre­vi­ously pro­vided few de­tails about the sta­tus of Leopold Mun­yakazi, who was de­ported from the United States in late Septem­ber. The 67-year-old, who taught one se­mes­ter at Goucher in 2008, stands ac­cused of stok­ing eth­nic vi­o­lence dur­ing the Rwan­dan geno­cide of 1994.

Un­til re­cently, his at­tor­ney in North­ern Vir­ginia and for­mer col­leagues at Goucher were un­sure where he was be­ing held and whether he had a lawyer in Rwanda. They wor­ried he would not re­ceive a fair trial.

A spokesman for Rwan­dan pros­e­cu­tors said Mun­yakazi ap­peared in court last month for a judge to con­sider his pre­trial de­ten­tion.

Nkusi Faustin, a spokesman for the na­tional pros­e­cu­tor’s in­ter­na­tional crimes unit, said the judge or­dered Mun­yakazi be placed in pro­vi­sional de­ten­tion at Ki­gali Cen­tral Prison in the Rwan­dan cap­i­tal.

Mun­yakazi ap­pealed, Faustin said, but the or­der was up­held. Pros­e­cu­tors re­quested an ex­ten­sion to his pro­vi­sional de­ten­tion, which was granted Nov. 16.

Pros­e­cu­tors con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate and build their case.

Faustin said Mun­yakazi has his own lawyers. He did not pro­vide a trial date.

For­mer Goucher Pres­i­dent San­ford Unger said he has con­cerns about Mun­yakazi “get­ting a fair trial.”

“It was a long time ago,” Unger said, “and the in­dict­ment was al­ways a lit­tle bit sketchy.”

The events that led to Mun­yakazi’s de­por­ta­tion be­gan 22 years ago in Rwanda, when ex­trem­ist Hu­tus killed be­tween 750,000 and 1 mil­lion Tut­sis dur­ing a 100-day mas­sacre, ac­cord­ing to U.S. State Depart­ment es­ti­mates. Nearly three-quar­ters of the Tutsi pop­u­la­tion was killed.

Mun­yakazi, a Hutu scholar with a Tutsi wife, is ac­cused of in­cit­ing vi­o­lence at a rally at a soc­cer sta­dium.

U.S. agents in­ves­ti­gated the charges dur­ing three weeks in Rwanda in 2009. Wit­nesses told them Mun­yakazi led a band of Hu­tus to find and kill an ed­u­cated Tutsi, and he or­ches­trated night raids on Tutsi homes.

Ofe­lia Calderon, Mun­yakazi’s at­tor­ney in North­ern Vir­ginia, has said the wit­nesses were planted by the Rwan­dan gov­ern­ment.

Mun­yakazi flew to the United States for a con­fer­ence on French lit­er­a­ture in July 2004 and ap­plied for asy­lum with his fam­ily.

He was teach­ing French at Mont­clair State Uni­ver­sity in New Jer­sey in Oc­to­ber 2006 when he gave an ex­plo­sive talk in Delaware chal­leng­ing the no­tion that the mass killings con­sti­tuted a geno­cide.

It was frat­ri­cide, he said: brother against brother.

One month af­ter his talk, Rwan­dan au­thor­i­ties is­sued an in­ter­na­tional ar­rest war­rant charg­ing Mun­yakazi with geno- cide, con­spir­acy to com­mit geno­cide and nega­tion of geno­cide.

He con­tin­ued teach­ing, and ar­rived at Goucher Col­lege in the fall of 2008 through the Scholar Res­cue Fund, which places per­se­cuted teach­ers at uni­ver­si­ties. Mun­yakazi and his fam­ily moved into a col­le­ge­owned house in Tow­son.

U.S. im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials be­gan de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings against Mun­yakazi be­cause he had over­stayed his visa. He con­tin­ued to re­quest asy­lum.

His le­gal fight to re­main in the United States con­sumed nearly eight years. He chal­lenged the de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings and ap­pealed in fed­eral court.

On Sept. 28, Mun­yakazi was flown to Ki­gali and turned over to Rwan­dan au­thor­i­ties.

His fam­ily has been granted asy­lum. Mun­yakazi’s wife, who works at a nurs­ing home, has de­clined to dis­cuss the case against her hus­band.

A State Depart­ment spokesman has said the United States ex­pects Rwan­dan au­thor­i­ties to en­sure Mun­yakazi’s hu­man rights are pro­tected while he awaits trial.


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