Scheduled to begin today, 2 October, is the trial of the alleged Liberian war criminal Mohammed Jabbateh, popularly known as “Jungle Jabbah,” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
The trial will last for three weeks in the James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse.
Jabbateh has been charged with two counts of immigration fraud and two counts of perjury, following false statements made when filing for US asylum in the late 1990s. The defendant allegedly lied when he denied having committed war crimes during Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1996).
This will be the first time victims get to testify in a criminal trial about the first Liberian civil war.
According to a release from Civitas-Maxima.org they “have also launched a media campaign – the Liberian Quest for Justice – which will provide a public and accessible account of the Jungle Jabbah trial in Philadelphia, partially through cartoons featuring a Liberian girl called Musu. This account will be apolitical, balanced and unbiased.”
The court may issue a cell phone ban in the courtroom to maintain security of the witnesses, however confirmation is impending. If the ban is issued, cell phones may be checked in at the security desk before entering the courtroom.
The Philadelphia trial is the first case being provided with such an extensive campaign, according to the website and noted that several other Liberian cases are expected to go forward in European countries that have extra-territorial jurisdiction for international crimes.
According to the indictment, Jabbateh, during his overall time as a ULIMO commander or higher ranking officer, either personally committed, or ordered ULIMO troops under his command to commit the following nonexclusive list of acts:
- The murder of civilian non-combatants;
- The sexual enslavement of women;
- The public raping of women;
- The maiming of civilian non-combatants;
- The torturing of civilian non-combatants;
- The enslavement of civilian non-combatants;
- The conscription of child soldiers;
- The execution of prisoners of war;
- The desecration and mutilation of corpses; and
- The killing of persons because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.