Washington DC, August 26, 2011 (FH) - Prosecution on Friday dismissed all charges against Lazare Kobagaya, a 84-year old Rwandan accused of participating in the 1994 genocide and of unlawfully obtaining US citizenship in 2006.

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The defendant hails from Southern Rwanda. He has been living in the US since 2005, when he immigrated to join family members. He was living in Wichita (Kansas) when a federal grand jury indicted him in January 2009 for lying to obtain American citizenship.

Prosecution affirmed that Kobagaya concealed he was in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, lying during immigration proceedings in Wichita when he said that he lived from 1993 to 1995 in Burundi. The American Justice Department alleged that Kobagaya was in Rwanda in April 1994, inciting Hutus to burn down Tutsi houses and to kill Tutsi wives of Hutus.

However, after more than two years, US Federal Prosecution filed to dismiss the charges in what was the first criminal prosecution in America requiring proof of genocide.

According to the daily newspaper The Wichita Eagle, "the prosecutors said in their motion they had failed to disclose a witness whose testimony would have been favorable to the defence".

Kobagaya had put on his visa application that he moved from Rwanda in 1993, while the truth is that he moved in 1994. Prosecutors said that this false statement allowed him to fraudulently obtain his visa.

However, at one point during the investigation, the woman who had processed Kobagaya's visa application in September 2008 declared that the change of date would not have influenced her decision to approve his application.

The case brought some 50 witnesses from Africa to testify in a five-week trial in April 2011.

According to Kobagaya's lawyer Kurt Kerns, "the investigation and trial, which involved sending investigators to Africa and bringing   witnesses from Africa to Wichita, is estimated to have cost between one and two million dollars".


© Hirondelle News Agency