Man arrested near Houlton complicit in deaths of 200 at Rwandan hospital 20 years ago

Posted Aug. 07, 2014, at 11:35 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 07, 2014, at 5:06 p.m.
Jean Leonard Teganya
Courtesy of Canada Border Services Agency
Jean Leonard Teganya

HOULTON, Maine — A man arrested Sunday on a warrant out of Canada was found by a Canadian court to be complicit in the deaths of 200 people of Tutsi ethnicity in 1994 at a Rwandan hospital where he was an intern, according to Canadian news reports.

Jean Leonard Teganya, 42, was arrested in the Houlton area after he reportedly walked across the border into Maine. He was wanted for deportation for violating human rights under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act related to the Rwandan genocide.

A treaty between the United States and Canada prevents individuals from seeking asylum in one nation if they have been denied it in another, according to Susan Roche, executive director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project of Maine, located in Portland. The only exception is for minors or people who have certain family members in those countries.

It could not be determined if Teganya has relatives in the U.S. He has a wife and children living in Canada, according to news reports.

Teganya, a member of the Hutu ethnic majority responsible for the genocide against the Tutsis, settled in Canada in 1999 after spending time in Zaire, Kenya and India, the National Post, a Canadian publication, reported. His first claim for asylum was rejected in 2002, but Teganya appealed the case a handful of times over the next decade.

In October 2012, Teganya’s final appeal was denied and he was ordered deported. Information about whether and when he was removed from Canada and returned to Rwanda was not immediately available Thursday.

“In his appeal for refugee status, Mr. Teganya argued that he was not a participant in the genocide, and that his Hutu ethnicity, the same as the genocide perpetrators, was the only factor that saved him from becoming a victim during the massacre,” according to information posted Oct. 30, 2012, on www.canadavisa.com.

In determining Teganya was ineligible for refugee status as someone believed to be complicit in crimes against humanity or war crimes, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board questioned why Teganya survived and stayed at the hospital. He said he was determined to complete his internship.

“This justification is not reasonable in the context of the Rwandan horror,” the refugee board found, 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.

“The panel is entitled to ask itself why the presence of the claimant on the campus did not seem to concern the extremists, who pursued their dirty work for several weeks.”

Teganya’s last known address in Canada was Laval, Quebec, according to Canada Border Services Agency. Laval is a suburb of Montreal.

His father was a regional leader in the Hutu-led governing Mouvement Revolutionaire National pour le Developpement, the party in power at the time of the genocide, the National Post reported. He is serving a 22-year prison sentence in Rwanda.

Thousands of people fled Rwanda after the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

“Jean Leonard Teganya was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody after his arrest by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for entering the United States without inspection,” Daniel Modricker, spokesman for ICE, said Thursday in an email. “He will be held in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.”

Removal proceedings are conducted in U.S. Immigration Court in Boston, Portland immigration attorney Roche said. People detained while awaiting removal hearings are held at three county-owned facilities in Massachusetts — the Suffolk County Jail in Boston, the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in Plymouth and the Bristol County Jail in Dartmouth.

If ordered removed from the U.S by an immigration judge, Teganya most likely would be taken to Rwanda, his country of origin, rather than returned to Canada since he already was ordered deported from that country, she said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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