19th April 2018: The Liberian warlord Mohammed Jabbateh was sentenced today to 30 years in prison, marking an important 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 US history. SRT grantee Civitas Maxima and its sister organisation the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) have collaborated with US authorities on the investigation since 2014.
On 18th October 2017, a Philadelphia jury convicted Jabbateh of fraud and perjury for lying on his US immigration application about his connection to war crimes. According to the indictment, Jabbateh personally committed, or ordered his soldiers to commit, acts of violence, torture, cannibalism and human rights abuses in the First Liberian Civil War (1989- 1997). However he lived freely in Philadelphia for decades afterwards, until his arrest in April 2016.
During the three-week trial, prosecutors brought 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.
Alain Werner, director of Civitas Maxima, said, ‘Astonishingly, Liberian victims have been denied justice in their own country so they had to find access to justice elsewhere. The Jungle Jabbah case is an expression of these efforts. [This] is the first in a series of cases tried outside of Liberia that we have been working on, which show that impunity does not have to be the norm.’
Civitas Maxima and the GJRP will be leading outreach campaigns and monitoring the upcoming trials of alleged Liberian war criminals expected to happen in 2018 and 2019. They have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the continued support of Liberian victims in their fight for justice.
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