DOJ Dismisses Genocide Charges After Failure to Make Disclosure to Defense

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We have written previously about the number of times in which federal prosecutors seem to withhold crucial evidence from defendants – evidence that they are required under law to turn over. Here, for example, is a discussion of an important Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case in which this occurred.

A genocide case in Kansas poses a new instance. After charging a Kansas man with one of the most horrific crimes imaginable, federal prosecutors ended their genocide case against Lazare Kobagaya on August 26 after his defense attorneys sought sanctions against prosecutors for withholding evidence.

In his trial, the government failed to disclose information from a U.S. consular officer listed on Kobagaya’s immigration application. The officer stated that even if she had known that Kobagaya was in Rwanda in 1994, she would not have questioned him about the genocide for his visa and alien registration application because he was not Rwandan, but rather a Burundian national. A key argument in the defense’s case was that Kobagaya’s presence in Rwanda during the genocide was not a material fact that would have caused further investigation by U.S. immigration officials if Kobagaya had disclosed it in his immigration papers. He did not make that disclosure regarding his presence in Rwanda in his application.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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