Man suspected of war crimes in Rwandan genocide entered the U.S. illegally from Canada

A Rwandan man suspected of being complicit in the killing of 200 ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide was found wandering in Maine this week after illegally crossing the border between Canada and the United States.

(CBSA)
Jean Leonard Teganya (Canada Border Services Agency)

Jean Leonard Teganya, 42, was spotted on Sunday by a local resident in the woods near the border with Canada, Reuters reported. He was later questioned, then arrested by a U.S. Border Patrol agent and is being processed for removal from the country, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection news release.

Teganya was wanted in Canada for human-rights violations under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, according to CBC News.

He traveled to Canada in 1999 and, according to the Bangor Daily News, sought asylum in 2011, claiming that he was not involved in the genocide and only escaped death because he is Hutu, the ethnic majority in Rwanda responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and moderate Hutu Rwandans.

At the time, he was a medical intern at Butare University Hospital, where hundreds of patients and staff were murdered, according to the National Post, which reported on Teganya’s asylum case in 2012.

“This justification is not reasonable in the context of the Rwandan horror,” Canada’s refugee board said at the time, according to the National Post. “Although he claims that he did not participate actively in the massacres, the panel … is entitled to ask itself whether the claimant’s passivity in the face of the massacres is not equivalent to endorsing the policies and methods of the party in power.”

Teganya’s father was a regional leader in the Hutu government at the time of the genocide, and he was sentenced to 22 years in prison. But during his application for refuge in Canada, Teganya said that he fears being imprisoned, tortured and punished for a long period of time before a trial in Rwanda because his father was convicted of war crimes, the National Post reported.

Alain Mukuralinda, a spokesperson for Rwanda’s National Public Prosecution Authority, told The New Times that the recent developments “did not come as a surprise” but that he could not comment on the ongoing investigation.

Upon being taken into custody in Maine, Teganya was processed for entering the country “without inspection.” Once U.S. Customs officials learned that he was wanted in Canada, the agency’s news release said, he was “processed for removal and turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s office of Enforcement and Removal Operations.”

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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