News / Africa

Former Liberia Defense Minister Denied Bail by US Judge

Former Liberian defense minister Tom Woewiyu was arrested last week in New Jersey and charged with failure to disclose his alleged affiliation with Charles Taylor's rebel movement.Former Liberian defense minister Tom Woewiyu was arrested last week in New Jersey and charged with failure to disclose his alleged affiliation with Charles Taylor's rebel movement.
x
Former Liberian defense minister Tom Woewiyu was arrested last week in New Jersey and charged with failure to disclose his alleged affiliation with Charles Taylor's rebel movement.
Former Liberian defense minister Tom Woewiyu was arrested last week in New Jersey and charged with failure to disclose his alleged affiliation with Charles Taylor's rebel movement.
James Butty
A former Liberian defense minister has been denied bail by a U.S. judge, after it was determined he is a flight risk.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents last week arrested Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu at Newark Airport on his return from Liberia and charged him with lying on his citizenship application by failing to disclose his alleged affiliation with a “violent political group in Liberia.” 

Woewiyu served as defense minister in Charles Taylor’s former rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), during that country’s civil war.  His immigration lawyer, Raymond Basso, said his client amended his citizenship application to include his participation in the Taylor regime.  

Linwood C. Wright, assistant U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Philadelphia, said Judge Judith Faith Angell denied bail because she believed Woewiyu might try to leave the country.
 
“There was a detention hearing and Mr. Woewiyu was ordered detained by a U.S. magistrate judge.  The judge found that he (Woewiyu) was a flight risk, and so she ordered him detained pending his trial,” Wright said.
 
Raymond Basso, Woewiyu’s immigration lawyer, told VOA last week the case against his client was purely an immigration matter and that it was a “misconception” to suggest that he was being charged with war crimes.
 
Basso said he was confident his client would be exonerated because, although he made a misrepresentation in his first citizenship application, it was later modified to include Woewiyu’s participation in the Taylor regime.
 
Wright said the case is an immigration issue based on Woewiyu’s misrepresentations and non-disclosures under oath regarding his background.
 
“For instance, one of the requirements was that he names all the organizations that he’s been in, political organizations, and he did not report that he was a member of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia,” Wright said.
 
Wright said Woewiyu also checked “No” when asked in his application whether he had ever advocated, either directly or indirectly, the overthrow of a government by force or violence.
 
“Another question was whether he had either directly or indirectly persecuted any group for a number of reasons, including political opinion and social affiliation and he said “No” to that.  

Of course, the grand jury determined that he was the minister of defense for the National Patriotic Front of Liberia. There was a question with regards to persecution of groups that supported President (Samuel) Doe when Doe was in power in Liberia,” Wright said.
 
Woewiyu pleaded not guilty at his detention hearing to all counts against him, including perjury and four counts of fraudulent misrepresentation in immigration applications.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
May 21, 2014 1:30 AM
The Issue is not about Mr. Woewiyu lying to the immigration, Because there are lot of illegal immigrants who broke the laws of our Land, Living in the US illegally, enjoying our taxpayer money, getting free medical, and welfare from our Government. The truth is Mr. Woewiyu should be facing charges for the atrocity he cause in Liberia. He is one of those that Violated human rights in Liberia. If the US Government want to arrest Mr. Woewiyu for just lying on his application, then we as Liberian have serious with that, Because the whole world knows Mr. Woewiyu help to cause the problem in Liberia. So killing the Liberian people is more important. we do accept the fact that Mr. Woewiyu lied on his immigration application. But there is something more deeper than that, that he should be serving time for. So we are calling the US Government to reexamined the case of Mr. Woewiyu. He needs to be facing charges for the atrocity in Liberia.

by: Taweh C. Johnson from: Liberia
May 20, 2014 10:24 AM
I believe Tom intentionally avoided giving those information, because he knew they would indict him, and subsequently convict him of the charges. So to the best of his ability, he was to play save game, thinking, that too is Liberia, but was caught up in the trickery. Fate has caught up with u. However, if the issue is immigration related, then let the law deal with him from that point instead of war crime or vice versa.

by: Beverly M. Martin from: United States
May 20, 2014 5:58 AM
I believe the judge was completely correct in detaining Woewiwu totally on the basis of lying on his immigration application. The immigration application is a very vital document, determining whether a person should be allowed to live in America or whether that person would be a danger to our country. The falsified information in Mr. Woewiwu's application proved that he could not become a trusted member of our country, not even considering what he may or may not have done in the Liberian regime,
bmartin

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs