A federal lawsuit filed today under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) accuses Moses W. Thomas — who allegedly was a commander of a specialized unit in the Liberian military — of directing an assault on St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in the Liberian capital of Monrovia in July 1990, during Liberia’s first civil war. The assault killed approximately 600 unarmed men, women and children.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on behalf of four of the church massacre’s survivors. The suit does not identify the four plaintiffs, all Liberian citizens still residing there, because they fear retribution. The suit alleges that Thomas knew the church was a shelter for civilians, and that he told dozens of soldiers that “their mission was to kill all the people in the Lutheran Church compound regardless of whether or not they were rebels.”
According to the lawsuit, Thomas fled Liberia and entered the U.S. in 2002, where he applied for immigration status under a program meant to assist victims of war crimes. He now lives in suburban Philadelphia.
The name of the case is Jane W., et al. v. Moses W. Thomas, 18-Civ-569 (PBT) (E.D.Pa).