Jeffery Gbatu, the only surviving member of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), has reportedly been arrested in the United States of America by Interpol, the Daily Observer has reliably learnt.
According to the report, Gbatu was arrested on Monday, September 19, in Charlotte, North Carolina, when Homeland Security alerted Interpol, which subsequently charged him with “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” which he allegedly committed in the aftermath of the 1980 coup.
“Gbatu’s arrest is in reaction to his alleged role played in the heat of the coup, which witnessed the execution of 13 officials of the Tolbert regime,” a source close to Gbatu’s family in Liberia informed this newspaper via mobile phone. Until his arrest on Monday, Gbatu has survived as a taxi driver for the last five to six years.
As a senior member of the PRC, Gbatu was commissioned as Brigadier/General and also promoted to the position of Speaker, a status which brought him infamy. Speaker Gbatu became a household name.
The PRC military regime that governed Liberia during the early 1980s was established after the military coup of April 12, 1980 that toppled the True Whig Party government. Samuel Kanyon Doe, assumed the chairmanship of the council upon seizing power. Apart from Doe, the council consisted of 17 soldiers, among them Colonel Jeffery Gbatu, a soldier of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
Gbatu along with other PRC members (now deceased) fled the country when they parted company with Doe, who in 1986 relinquished his military title and became a civilian politician.
The news about Gbatu’s arrest justifies the maxim that “no crime goes unpunished.”
This also brings to three the arrest of former Liberian officials that have been accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity in the home country and fled to foreign lands.
Recently, it was reported that an ex-fighter of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO), one of the factions in the Liberian 14-year civil crisis, was arrested in the US state of Philadelphia on a similar charge.
Mohammed Jabateh, 49, was detained following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation unit.
An indictment unsealed also charged Jabateh with immigration fraud and perjury.
According to the indictment, in December of 1998, when making application for asylum and later for permanent legal residency, Jabbateh, aka “Jungel Jabbah,” a Liberian, lied about his activities during Liberia’s first civil war, while he was a member of ULIMO and later ULIMO-K, a rebel group that battled for control of Liberia.
Jabbateh was a commander or higher ranking officer in ULIMO and ULIMO-K. 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 murder of civilian noncombatants; the sexual enslavement of women; the public raping of women; the maiming of civilian noncombatants; the torturing of civilian noncombatants; the enslavement of civilian noncombatants; 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.