GARY CRAIG • STAFF WRITER • Democrat And Chronicle
With the first phase of the immigration case against Clarkson resident George Boley Sr. now over, Boley’s lawyer and family hope they can convince the courts to allow him to be released as his trial proceeds.
This week’s testimony against Boley ended Thursday in an immigration court at the federal detention facility in Batavia. The trial is not expected to resume until February.
Federal immigration officials claim Boley was a war criminal during the 14-year Liberian civil war, which ended in 2003. Boley, who has lived with his family in Clarkson for decades, also traveled between the U.S. and his homeland of Liberia on illegitimate immigration documents, federal authorities allege. Boley has denied all the charges.
In the 1990s, Boley returned to Liberia and headed a faction known as the Liberia Peace Council. Authorities and some human rights activists claim the LPC slaughtered civilians, sometimes at the order of Boley.
Blamo Tuan, a Liberian man, testified via video from Liberia this week that he once saw Boley execute four men at point-blank range. Immigration Judge John Reid ultimately disallowed the video testimony after continual difficulties.
Federal officials can now bring witnesses from Liberia if they choose.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman said Thursday that he could not comment on an active case.
Boley’s attorney, Matthew Kolken, noted that Tuan admitted in his testimony to killing children — an admission that could preclude him from legal entry to the U.S.
Kolken said after court Thursday that he intends to file a federal lawsuit challenging Boley’s continued detention. Judge Reid has suggested to federal authorities that they consider releasing Boley with electronic monitoring, but in this case the authorities and not the immigration judge decide whether Boley can be free as he awaits the trial to continue.
Federal judges could find the detention unconstitutional, however.
Boley’s son claimed in an e-mail that federal officials are simply trying to break his father by keeping him jailed.
“The real reason the (government) is keeping my dad locked up is so he can’t get all the evidence he needs to truly defend himself from … lies and baseless accusations,” wrote George Boley Jr.
Reid set a February date for the case to resume. Immigration attorneys this week began their case against Boley, and they will either continue in February or Boley’s defense will then get a chance to present its evidence.
The case has been delayed because of the volume of immigration cases in Batavia — hearings that often last only hours — and the difficulty in blocking out consecutive days for a trial.