Jean Leonard Teganya, B Rwandan Med Student is accused of taking part in 1994 genocide. By Laurel J. Sweet




Opening statements are expected Monday in the immigration-fraud trial of a former Rwandan medical student accused of trying to pass himself off as a political refugee in the U.S. after prosecutors allege he’d committed brutal atrocities during the 1994 mass slaughter of 800,000 members of the Tutsis ethnic group.

Filings by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office in federal district court indicate prosecutors have lined up more than a dozen witnesses against Jean Leonard Teganya they said will testify in Boston to seeing and surviving the genocide throughout the East African country, as well as genocidal atrocities at the university hospital in Butare, Rwanda, where Teganya was a medical student.

Teganya, 47, of Revere is alleged to have entered this country illegally in 2014 by walking through woods across the border of Canada into Maine. Federal law denies asylum to anyone who takes part in genocide. Prosecutors said Teganya lied under oath about his background on his application for asylum and at a related immigration hearing.

They said Teganya failed to mention his participation in MRND, the Rwandan political party behind the genocide, and claimed on his asylum application he had never harmed anyone  because of their race, religion or social group, even though “he had identified Tutsi patients to Hutu soldiers to be killed, and had also beaten, raped and killed Tutsis himself,” prosecutors said in their trial brief.

Teganya’s public defenders have appealed to Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to keep out of evidence disturbing photographs the government intends to introduce at trial that prosecutors describe in their exhibit list as “photo of corpses in the countryside” and “photo of corpses in the river.”

According to the defense, the pictures were taken by government witness Dr. Rony Zachariah of Doctors Without Borders, who was working at the university hospital from the start of the genocide on April 7, 1994, until he evacuated his team 17 days later.

‘The pictures of dead bodies which Dr. Zachariah took on the road to and at the Burundian border might paint a fuller picture of the genocide, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the defendant or any crime he is alleged to have committed”  attorney Scott Lauer argues in his motion to exclude the photographs and limit Zachariah’s testimony.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.