COVID-19 Takes Away Diaspora Liberian Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu Life

The late  Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu

PHILADELPHIA – Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, who served as Defense Minister for Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front (NPFL) has fallen prey to the deadly hands of COVID 19, according to the FPA quoting family sources, Mr. Woewiyu died in the US city of Philadelphia.

He had been undergoing treatment at the Bryan Mawr Hospital in Philadelphia for about a week.

Born Thomas Smith, Mr. Woewiyou, 73, was the regular voice of the NPFL during the heydays of the civil war with calls to the BBC Focus on Africa, detailing the progress of Mr. Taylor’s civil war to remove former President Samuel Kanyon Doe from power.

Mr. Woewiyu has held legal permanent resident status in the United States since 1972. There, he founded the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL) among the Liberian expatriate community in the U.S., an organization that advocated against the regime of Doe.

Mr. Woewiyou served as Defense Minister and Spokesman for the NPFL, a rebel faction deemed responsible for over 60,000 violations, consisting of war crimes such as rape, slavery, conscription of child soldiers and massacres, during Liberia’s First Civil War which ran from 1989 – 1996.

Mr. Woewiyu has held legal permanent resident status in the United States since 1972. There, he founded the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL) among the Liberian expatriate community in the U.S., an organization that advocated against the regime of Doe.

Woewiyou later broke away from Mr. Taylor and became one of his biggest critics. He was also a critic of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

On January 30, 2014, Woewiyu was placed under investigation for several counts of crimes relating to perjury, fraudulent application for American citizenship, deception of immigration services and delivery of false documents for the purposes of the process naturalization.

On May 12, 2014, Woewiyu was arrested at the Newark International Airport upon his return from Liberia.

In October 2014, his bail was paid and Woewiyu was placed under house arrest.

His trial began on 11 June 2018. On 3 July 2018, he was found guilty of immigration fraud, false statements concerning his naturalization and perjury. The decision on his sentence was scheduled for 26 November 2018 but it was postponed. He faces a maximum sentence of 110 years of imprisonment and a fine of four million.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended that Woewiyu, along with some fifty Liberians who participated in the war, including Sirleaf, not take public office for thirty years based on his association in warring factions during the First Liberian Civil War.

During Mr. Woewiyou’s trial in Philadelphia, Assistant U.S. Attorney Linwood C. Wright Jr., who prosecuted the case along with co-counsel Nelson S.T. Thayer Jr, said: “We hope they understand that there are people who in fact care about their experience and want to see them have justice.”

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About Cholo Brooks 12152 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.