Mohammed Jabateh sent to jail for lying about his war crime connections
Speaking on various radio stations following the announcement, those Liberians said the jail term for the former rebel leader is a signal to those who committed heinous crimes in the country against innocent Liberians that will have their days no matter how long it takes.
They lamented the fact that some of those who committed atrocities in the country had been accommodated with state power and are perambulating with impunity without remorse.
According to those aggrieved callers, they will continue to pray so that people who committed crime against the state and its citizens will have their days in court.
The Liberians further indicated people who committed crimes in the country and seeking refuge in other countries under dubious arrangement will be exposed and disgraced like ‘Jungle Jabbah’.
“Jungle Jabbah”, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, culminating a landmark case in the United States and marking a long-overdue milestone for justice in Liberia.
Thirty years is the maximum sentence he could have received and one of the longest prison sentences for immigration fraud in U.S. history.
On October 18, 2017, a Philadelphia jury convicted Jabbateh of fraud and perjury for lying on his U.S. immigration application about his connection to war crimes.
According to the indictment, the rebel commander personally committed, or ordered his soldiers to commit, barbaric acts of violence, torture, cannibalism and human rights abuses in the First Liberian Civil War (1989 – 1997). Yet, for decades afterwards, he lived freely in the Philadelphian community known as “Little Liberia” until his arrest in April 2016.
During the three-week trial in Philadelphia, prosecutors flew in more than 15 witnesses from Liberia to tell their stories of atrocities committed by Jabbateh and fighters under his command. This was the first time that victims of the First Liberian Civil War had the chance to testify in front of a criminal judge.
Civitas Maxima and its sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), have collaborated with U.S. authorities on the investigation since 2014 and called the sentencing a milestone for global justice and human rights.
“Liberian victims have been waiting for more than 15 years to see their perpetrators held accountable. The Jungle Jabbah conviction and sentence are a testament to the unwavering commitment and resilience of the victims who are making their voices heard not only within Liberia, but also globally”, said Hassan Bility, director of the GJRP and a survivor of torture himself.
“A victim-led movement in favor of accountability for Liberia is clearly in motion. The quest to end impunity in Liberia has just begun”, said Hassan Bility.
Many alleged Liberian war criminals are still living their lives as if nothing happened. Some even hold powerful positions in government, hampering trust in public institutions and hindering sustainable reconciliation.
Mr. Bility went on to explain: “Victims had to watch some perpetrators gain positions of power. Our post-war politicians have not listened to the victims’ cries. This will have to change. Our hope still remains to see these trials take place in Liberia, so victims of war crimes from all over the country can witness the proceedings.”