U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service has arrested the former leader of the Liberian Peace Council, one of the many factions during Liberia's 14-year civil war.
George Boley was arrested January 15 in New York State and is being held on allegations of being in the United States without proper legal documents.
Pat Reilly, spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service said Boley will have to appear before an immigration judge to defend the charges against him.
“Mr. Boley was arrested on January 15th at the Peace Bridge which is on the border of the United States. He was asked to appear there upon entering the United States in November because it was suspected that he did not have documentation to be in this country legally,” she said.
Reilly said Boley is also being held on charges of committing extra-judicial killings in Liberia.
“He was questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. After a period of questioning, he was arrested by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). He is in custody in Batavia, New York,” Reilly said.
In a written statement, Boley’s wife, Kathryn and son Boley junior, questioned the logic that Mr. Boley could have travelled to and from the United States for 20 years undocumented, particularly in the wake of September 11, 2001.
Reilly said border agents suspected that Boley did not have proper documentation as he tried to re-enter the United States in November 2009.
“He was given a deferred inspection, which means that they gave him a period of time to get his papers in order and appear at an office for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and it happens at the Peace Bridge which is near his house. When he came there to be questioned about his immigration status, he was also questioned about activities which he did not declare upon entering the country, and he was charged with being in the country illegally and with extra-judicial killings,” she said.
The Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission has concluded in its final report that Boley and all other warring faction leaders during Liberia’s civil war be prosecuted for crimes they allegedly committed during the war.
Boley, who headed the Liberian Peace Council, has denied committing any crimes against humanity.
Boley Junior said the allegations against his father are faceless and without merit.
“To be quite frank, the charges are bogus and completely fabricated and unsubstantiated. At no given time has he taken up a gun to shoot somebody as the United States claimed he has done,” Boley Jr. said.
Reilly would not comment on the specifics of the extra-judicial killing charges against Mr. Boley and whether or not they had to do with Boley’s role in the Liberian civil war.
“They pertain to what you declare when you come into this country. When you come into the United States you’re asked about any associations or activities that could preclude you from living in the United States. And if you do not answer those correctly or evidence is found to show that you did not answer those correctly, you can be charged with being in this country illegally and taken before an immigration judge who would ultimately decide whether those charges are valid,” Reilly said.
A hearing is set for February 24, according to a Boley family statement.