Jucontee Thomas Smith Woewiyu

08.05.2016 ( Last modified: 13.06.2016 )
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facts

Jucontee Thomas Smith Woewiyu was born in 1946 in Liberia and is the former leader of the Liberian National Patriotic Front “Front National Patriotique du Liberia” (NPFL)

The NPFL was a key actor in the first civil war that took place in Liberia in 1989 and brought Charles Taylor to power in 1997. Taylor remained president role until August 2003. The NPFL invaded the country to remove President Samuel Doe from his position and therefore take control.

Woewiyu was Minister for Defence then Labour Minister under Taylor’s regime. Following some ideological differences, he broke away from Taylor in 1994 and then created his own political party- the Liberian National Patriotic Front-Central Revolutionary Council (NPFL-CRC).

He is accused of having committed numerous crimes against humanity during his mandate as Minister for Defence.

Woewiyu has lived in the United States of America since 1972. Recently he has been returning to Liberia frequently in order to run for a Senate seat in the region of Grand Bassa, his birthplace. Woewiyu was also a key figure in President Ellen Johnson’s mandate (in power since January 2006) and in the management of oil wells, discovered recently in the region.

Although the charge is based mainly on technical offenses relative to his American citizenship, Woewiyu is also accused of crimes against humanity committed during his mandate as Minister for Defence under the presidency of Taylor. The charges comprise of acts of torture against his rivals, execution of civilians and peacekeepers, rapes and sexual slavery, enlistment of child soldiers and murder of humanitarian aid workers.

One aspect of the indictment deals with Woewiyu’s omission of information in the past; in fact, he has not admitted to his affiliation with “violent Liberian political groups” in his immigration case file. His lawyer claims that his client rectified the situation in 2009.

On 30 January 2014 Woewiyu was placed under investigation for seven crimes of perjury in total, two for fraudulent attempt to acquire American citizenship, four for fraud in the immigration services and three for providing false documents in order to acquire citizenship. The maximum sentence for him would be 110 years in prison and a fine of four million dollars.

legal procedure

On 30 January 2014 Woewiyu was placed under investigation for seven crimes of perjury in total, two for fraudulent attempt to acquire American citizenship, four for fraud in the immigration services and three for providing false documents in order to acquire citizenship. The maximum sentence for him would be 110 years in prison and a fine of four million dollars.

On Monday 12 May 2014 Woewiyu was arrested in Newark Airport, USA where he had a stopover on his way back from Monrovia to Liberia.

Finally in October 2014 a Federal Judge from Philadelphia granted Woewiyu temporary release before his trial, on the condition that he remained under house arrest. A very high bail was paid.

Woewiyu pleaded not guilty for all the charges against him, including those addressing his war crimes and crimes against humanity.

spotlight

This is the second trial held in the United States in connection with the recent civil war in Liberia after George Boley, former leader of the aforementioned Liberian Peace Council, was recently arrested on American soil for charges linked to immigration as well as the alleged recruitment of child soldiers. He was exiled from the country.

Furthermore, the son of Charles Taylor, Chuckie Taylor, an American citizen was the first person to be judged under the Alien Tort Statute (the American law for civil offences against foreigners) for the crimes he committed in Liberia.

Fact Sheet
Name: Jucontee Thomas Smith Woewiyu
Nationality: Liberia
Context: Liberia
Charges: Other, Crimes against humanity, Deprivation of liberty, Deprivation of life, Infringment of physical integrity, Torture
Status: Indicted
Judgement Place: United States
Particulars: Awaiting trial for alleged fraud against the United States immigration services