CEDAR RAPIDS – A man who actively participated in the Rwandan genocide and then committed naturalization fraud was sentenced today to 15 years’ imprisonment.
In January 2016, Gervais (“Ken”) Ngombwa was convicted of one count of unlawfully procuring, or attempting to procure, naturalization or citizenship; one count of procuring citizenship to which he was not entitled; one count of conspiracy to unlawfully procure citizenship; and one count of making a materially false statement to agents of the Department of Homeland Security. Following the trial, one of Ngombwa’s counts of conviction was vacated by the court.
The evidence at trial showed Ngombwa knowingly made several material false statements to procure entry into the United States as a refugee from Rwanda in 1998. Notably, Ngombwa falsely claimed to be the brother of Faustin Twagiramungu, a former Prime Minister of Rwanda, who lives in exile in Belgium.
During sentencing proceedings, the government presented the testimony of multiple witnesses, including agents from the Department of Homeland Security. Much of the testimony pertained to Ngombwa’s conduct in Rwanda in the 1990s. The government presented testimony about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of people from the Tutsi ethnic group were killed. The evidence showed that Ngombwa was charged and convicted in two Gacaca courts in that country for his involvement in the Rwandan genocide. He was also named in an Indictment brought in 2010 against Jean Uwinkindi by the United Nations Joint Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as a co-participant in a “joint criminal enterprise whose common purpose was the commission of genocide against the Tutsi racial or ethnic group and persons identified as Tutsi or presumed to support the Tutsi[.]” Uwinkindi was convicted of the charge in the Indictment and sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2015.
The evidence presented at sentencing also showed that Ngombwa is currently under Indictment in the Republic of Rwanda. That Indictment was brought by the
country’s Prosecutor General in 2014. An international arrest warrant is outstanding on this Indictment. The Rwandan Indictment charges Ngombwa in Count 1 with “Genocide” and alleges, in part, that Ngombwa “is individually liable for having, between 7th April 1994 and July 1994 ordered and committed crimes perpetrated with the intent to destroy in whole the Tutsi ethnic group.” The Indictment alleges Ngombwa drove members of the Interahamwe to the Catholic church “in order to attack and kill Tutsi who had sought refuge there.” Further, it alleges that Ngombwa transported members of the Interahamwe to the Kanzene communal office to kill Tutsi seeking refuge there. It is also charged Ngombwa and the Interahamwe militia, armed with guns and traditional weapons, “such as machetes, spears clubs and other traditional tools, attacked the Tutsi who had sought refuge in the premises of priests” at the Catholic Church, and attacked and killed them. There are additional allegations in Count 1. Moreover, Count 2 charges Ngombwa with “extermination as a crime against humanity.” Count 3 charges Ngombwa with “murder as a crime against humanity.”
Department of Homeland Security agents also testified that as part of their investigation, they personally interviewed multiple witnesses in Rwanda who allegedly saw Ngombwa commit acts of violence during the Rwandan genocide. For instance, many witnesses stated that Ngombwa drove members of the Interahamwe and the military – killers – to locations where they conducted mass killings of Tutsi. According to the witnesses, Ngombwa made derogatory statements concerning the Tutsi; he encouraged others to kill Tutsi; and he personally participated in the killings. According to the witnesses, Ngombwa also participated in the theft or looting of property belonging to Tutsi.
In addition, law enforcement agents testified about Ngombwa’s alleged involvement in a July 2013 fire at his Cedar Rapids home. Ngombwa is currently charged with arson and insurance fraud in the Iowa District Court for Linn County.
After hearing this evidence, United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade found that Ngombwa “actively participated in the genocide,” made multiple false statements while being resettled as a refugee, committed perjury and obstructed justice, and intentionally set fire to his home in 2013.
Following the sentencing decision, Kevin W. Techau, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, said, “This prosecution shows human rights violators will not find safe haven in the United States. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners worldwide to identify, prosecute, and repatriate those who, by fraud, have evaded the administration of justice in their homeland.”
“Human rights violators who flee from the atrocities committed in their home countries will not find refuge here,” said Special Agent in Charge Alex Khu, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), St. Paul, Minnesota. “HSI is especially proud of the international cooperation between governments and law enforcement agencies this case exemplifies and we will continue to track down those who assisted in persecution and remove those perpetrators from the United States.”
Ngombwa was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment and 3 years’ supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. After announcing her sentencing decision, Judge Reade immediately remanded Ngombwa to the custody of the United States Marshals Service. Ngombwa will now await placement at a Bureau of Prisons facility to serve his sentence. At a later date, defendant will be processed for removal from the United States to Rwanda after the completion of his prison term. Judge Reade has already revoked Ngombwa’s United States citizenship.
The case was originally referred to the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 by the Prosecutor General of Rwanda. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard L. Murphy and Ravi T. Narayan, and was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations.