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July 1, 2019Boston, MA, United StatesHuman Rights Violators

Rwandan man sentenced for immigration fraud and perjury in connection with 1994 genocide

BOSTON – On Monday, July 1, a man who fled Rwanda near the end of the 1994 genocide was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for immigration fraud and perjury in connection with his application for benefits in the United States, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Boston and ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center with significant assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. State Department and the Revere Police Department.

Jean Leonard Teganya, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Denis Saylor IV to 97 months in prison. Upon completion of his sentence, Teganya will face removal proceedings. In addition, Judge Saylor found that Teganya obstructed justice by committing perjury when he testified during trial. In April 2019, Teganya was convicted by a jury of two counts of immigration fraud and three counts of perjury.

“The defendant committed unimaginable acts of violence and brutality,” said Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, Homeland Security Investigations, Boston. “Today’s sentencing clearly demonstrates that this nation will never be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals. Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work closely with our federal and international partners to relentlessly pursue such criminals and protect our nation’s legal immigration systems.”

“Mr. Teganya was convicted and sentenced for the most serious form of immigration fraud: lying about his status as a war criminal to win benefits in the United States,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Based on the evidence admitted at trial, the defendant committed horrendous crimes during the Rwandan genocide and then sought to deceive U.S. immigration authorities about his past. Especially in the context of genocide, American laws exist to protect the persecuted – not the persecutors.”

The Rwandan genocide began on April 6, 1994, and lasted for a period of 100 days.  During the genocide, approximately 800,000 ethnic Tutsis were murdered, making it the deadliest genocide since the holocaust in World War II. Prior to the genocide, Teganya was enrolled as a medical student at the National University of Rwanda, in Butare. During that time, he was a member of the MRND political party, the ruling Hutu-dominated party that incited the genocide. Teganya was also a member of the Interahamwe, the MRND youth wing, where he participated in martial arts and weapons training.

During the genocide, Teganya remained at the hospital in Butare, where he led teams of soldiers and Interahamwe around the hospital to locate Tutsi patients and refugees hiding in the hospital. Once discovered, the Tutsis were taken and killed behind the maternity ward. Teganya also led teams of soldiers and Interahamwe who took Tutsi women to be raped.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that Teganya participated in the murders of three Tutsi people at the hospital and four Tutsi students he discovered in the dormitory where he was living. Teganya also participated in five rapes of two Tutsi women who were hiding in the hospital.

At the end of the genocide in mid-July 1994, Teganya fled Rwanda, eventually arriving in Canada. Canadian authorities determined that Teganya was not entitled to remain in Canada. After 15 years, Teganya evaded Canadian authorities and fled across the border into the United States. On Aug. 3, 2014, Teganya was encountered walking on foot after he crossed from Canada into Houlton, Maine. Teganya was taken into custody.

ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, created in 2003, was established to further a whole-of-government approach to identify, investigate, prosecute and remove war criminals and human rights abusers living in the U.S.

The Center and its partners work collaboratively to support ICE’s HSI efforts to bring numerous individuals to justice for human rights-related violations, such as genocide, torture, ethnic cleansing and various other forms of persecution, so as to ensured that the United States does not become a safe haven for human rights abusers.

The Center has combatted threats to our national security through various initiatives, including the No Safe Haven Initiative, which prevents the United States from becoming a safe haven for individuals who commit war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses. Through Operation No Safe Haven, the Center supported the arrests of 125 absconders sought for their roles in known or suspected human rights violations.

Since 2003, the Center has issued more than 75,000 subject records for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped more than 260 suspected human rights violators and war criminals from entering the U.S. It has supported ICE’s removal of 908 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States and has facilitated the departure of an additional 122 such individuals.

The Center’s support of the field has led to the arrest of more than 415 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. It is currently supporting more than 135 criminal investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,600 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. A charge of immigration fraud provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. A charge of perjury provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott L. Garland, Deputy Chief of Lelling’s Nation Security Unit, and George P. Varghese, also of the National Security Unit, prosecuted the case.

Updated: 11/19/2021