A Delaware County man accused of lying on his U.S. immigration forms about his ties to Liberian war criminals has been convicted of fraud.
Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu was convicted Tuesday after a three-week trial in Philadelphia that included testimony from foreign reporters and intelligence officials. He was convicted on 11 perjury, immigration fraud and other charges stemming from answers he gave on a 2006 application for citizenship, saying he never took part in the overthrow of a government.
Immigration and human rights investigators say he was part of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which sparked a multifaction tribal conflict and civil war. It’s been accused of war crimes including rape, torture, and the murder of aid workers and civilians.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Linwood Wright Jr. said Tuesday he hopes the verdict will bring a sense of justice to victims in Liberia.
“When people are abused, and people don’t feel like they have any redress, it has all sorts of effects that sort of cascade from that,” he said. “And we are happy that, hopefully, there are people in Liberia today who will say there is a chance for justice for us.”
Woewiyu said whatever he did or did not do, had nothing to do with his immigration.
Journalist Abraham Cooper, a first cousin of Woewiyu, said he knows his relative is a good man, but that the jury had the last word.
“I don’t feel good that he is convicted on these charges, but I think the law has taken (its) course,” Cooper said. “The jury of his peers has spoken, so obviously there is nothing I can do about that.”
Woewiyu is the second Liberian man convicted of lying about a role in the West African country’s civil wars.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 15.
WHYY’s Darryl C. Murphy contributed to this report.