A Rwandan man who lied to gain entry into the U.S. after helping slaughter scores of people during his country’s 1994 genocide must serve 15 years behind bars before facing deportation, a judge ruled Thursday.
The sentence following his conviction for immigration fraud caps a case that the Anti-Defamation League has called one of the most significant U.S. human rights prosecutions in recent years.
Federal prosecutor Rich Murphy said Ngombwa was a local leader of an extremist party during the genocide, in which the majority Hutu killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis in an effort to destroy their ethnic rivals after peace talks collapsed.
He said that Ngombwa wielded a machete as he personally butchered Tutsis, looted properties and drove a youth militia around the country to carry out mass killings of people seeking refuge in locations such as churches and a children’s orphanage.
Ngombwa’s attorney, Ray Sheets, said his client denies involvement in the genocide or that he was a leader in the extremist MDR-Power party. He said Ngombwa was known as a good and kind person to his supporters.
The defendant also maintained that he didn’t understand what was happening due to a lack of interpreter. Prosecutors said that wasn’t true and he had access to interpreters.