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.
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.

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Comment Sorting
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,

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