Defense To Fly in Four Witnesses From Liberia
By Issa A. Mansaray | The AfricaPaper
Philadelphia, PA – In court, the man’s life is completely in the hands of the law. He did not smile for the jury that would decide his fate. More than 50 individuals were questioned for jury function. At the end, sixteen were selected to serve as jurors in an immigration fraud, and war crime case against former Liberian ULIMO rebel commander, Mohammed Jabbateh, known by his nom de guerre as “Jungle Jabbah.”
His trial starts on Tuesday, Oct. 3. Many of the former warlord’s family members and friends showed up in court to support him. In April last year many volunteered to put up their homes costing from $150,000 to $250,000 to come up with the bail bond of $1million when Jabbateh first appeared in court for immigration fraud and war crime charges .
Silent political tensions here still run high, and almost everyone interviewed holds an opinion about the case. With the trial in full stream this week, The AfricaPaper observes that the number of his supporters showing up for the hearing believe he is “an innocent man.” They informed Jabbateh’s lawyer that they want to fly in four witnesses for the defense team in preparing Jabbateh this time to face some of his victims almost two decades after Liberia’s bloody war. The US government promised to continue the hunt for former warlords and criminals that tormented civilians in West Africa for several years.
Rule of Law
“Mr. Jabbateh’s arrest and court trial for alleged violation of human rights abuses in Liberia is a great beginning for the rule of law and subsequent creation of a war crimes court in Liberia,” said Jacob S. Kwateh, Secretary General for the Movement of Liberians Against Corruption (MOLAC) in Minnesota. “More importantly, it is a sad but hopeful news for war victims, especially those whose family members Mr. Jabbateh might have allegedly and directly violated.”
At the battle front, he (Jabbateh)had no mercy for anyone but himself, his victims recall in court documents. He ruined many lives. And then he jumped ship to the US. Jabbateh falsely stated to immigration authorities that he had never participated in any wars or war crimes. He lied. After years of investigations, Jungle Jabbah now stands trial for his alleged war crimes committed in Liberia, and his lies to immigration officials in the US more than 15 years ago.
The jury selected on Monday will determine his fate after hearing the case from both the plaintiff and the defense in the case the United States of America vs. Mohammed Jabbateh respectively.
Many Liberians are still disappointed that their country never summed up the courage to open a court to try war crimes, and those responsible for the carnage in the West Africa nation. Few years ago, Liberia’s warlord-president Charles Taylor was tried and locked up in Netherlands for war crimes committed in neighboring Sierra Leone.
In court, his relatives and family members say he was a “good man.”
“They [ULIMO] fought to actually get our freedom and to liberate us. But they are not war criminals,” said Mamadi Kromah, the family spokesperson at a press briefing outside the courthouse.
When Kromah was asked if that means the government witnesses are lying, he quickly opined that, “Everybody wants to come to the United States of America. If I was in Liberia struggling where people live on fifty cents per day …. and called to come and testify. I would use that opportunity to come to America and testify. So at least I can come here and work and take care of my family.”