COURTESY: BUFFALO NEWS
By Phil Fairbanks
A former Liberian rebel leader accused of war crimes was deported to his native homeland today after spending two years in federal custody outside Buffalo.
George S. Boley, a Brockport-area man, is accused of authorizing executions, massacres and rapes while serving as head of the Liberia Peace Council, one of several tribal groups involved in that African country’s bloody civil war during the 1990s.
“George Boley’s removal is a major step in addressing the serious human rights abuses Mr. Boley perpetrated in Liberia in the 1990s,” John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement today.
Boley, who has been in federal custody since 2010, is the first person to be deported under the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, a four-year old law that allows for the deportation of people who recruit and use child soldiers.
“The United States has always welcomed refugees and those fleeing oppression, but we will not be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” Morton said.
Human rights officials say Boley’s ties to the bloodshed in Liberia — an estimated 250,000 people were killed during the 1980s and 1990s — is undeniable.
In a 2009 report, Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission found Boley’s group responsible for “human rights and humanitarian law violations.”
Boley, who has denied the allegations of wartime atrocities, has claimed in the past that a group by the same name committed the crimes he’s accused of overseeing.
“They want to expel him from this country forever,” his oldest son, George Boley Jr., said in a 2010 interview with The Buffalo News. “The truth of the matter is … my father created the Liberia Peace Council to avert civil war and return Liberia to democratic and constitutional law.”
The younger Boley claims the government’s effort to deport his father is rooted in his lawsuit against federal agents. The lawsuit charges those agents with “reckless” and “malicious” violations of his civil rights.
Boley’s son claims his father, a resident of Clarkson, a small town near Brockport, lived there quietly for nearly 40 years.
In his interview with The News, he said his father came to America to attend college and, while here, raised seven children with his wife, Kathryn. He also said his father was a former administrator with the Rochester public school system.
At the time of Boley’s arrest in 2010 — he was apprehended while crossing the Peace Bridge — federal authorities compared his case to their high-profile investigation of Charles Taylor Jr., the son of Liberian dictator Charles Taylor.
The younger Taylor was convicted in connection with beatings, torture and executions in Liberia during his father’s rule. He was sentenced to 97 years in federal prison.
Taylor’s case is believed to be the first prosecution under a federal law that allows U.S. courts to hear cases involving torture in other nations if the accused is living in the U.S. or is a U.S. citizen.
The on-again, off-again civil war in Liberia began in the 1980s and ended briefly when Taylor was elected president. A few years later, fighting broke out again and continued until Taylor quit under international pressure.
In an unrelated matter, one of Boley’s other sons also ran afoul of the law last year.
Mahnseah T. Boley, 32, of Hilton, was charged in October with beating his ex-girlfriend and the Niagara Falls doctor who was dating her.
The younger Boley, a former wrestler at Brockport High School and Niagara County Community College, pleaded not guilty.