A visiting professor at Goucher College in Maryland has been suspended from teaching while officials investigate claims of his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Goucher College President Sanford Ungar informed students and faculty in an e-mail that Leopold Munyakazi, a French professor from Rwanda, was removed because of the seriousness of the allegations.
“Evidence that would either convict or exonerate Dr. Munyakazi beyond a reasonable doubt simply does not exist at this time,” Ungar said in the e-mail, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Munyakazi, a linguistics professor at the National University of Rwanda until 1992, has been charged with leading Hutu militia to Tutsis in hiding. He allegedly ordered officers inspecting roadblocks to check travelers’ identification and kill those who were Tutsis.
“I never did this,” Munyakazi said to the Baltimore Sun, explaining that he had criticized the Hutu government before the genocide. “I myself was targeted by militias. How could I collaborate with people who were hunting me?”
Munyakazi also told the Associated Press that he was persecuted for protecting his wife, who is a Tutsi.
Munyakazi was imprisoned for five years without charge. According to Andrew Tusabe, the second counselor at the Rwandan Embassy in Washington, D.C., Munyakazi was released in 1999 because of his age and profession. Munyakazi came to the United States for a seminar and returned home.
Alison Des Forges, a senior adviser at the Human Rights Watch, told The Washington Post that it was unusual for someone accused of genocide to obtain a passport and leave his home country freely, as Munyakazi did.
Munyakazi was indicted for involvement in the genocide in 2006, 12 years after the genocide and one month after making a controversial speech at the University of Delaware in which he questioned Rwanda’s official account of the massacre.
Ungar had been unaware of Munyakazi’s indictment, until he was approached in December by an NBC news producer doing a segment on war criminals.
“I am used to the persecution of the Rwandan government,” Munyakazi, who has documents from prosecutors, judges and village members supporting his innocence, said to the AP. “There’s no justice.”