18 October 2017

Liberia: Former Ulimo-K Commander Mohammed Jabateh Trial Goes to the Jury

Philadelphia, Pa — Federal judge Paul S. Diamond sent Mohammed Jabateh's case to the jury Tuesday, urging them to consider all evidence provided in the case, as U. S. prosecutors and Jabateh's defense attorney presented their final arguments.

Mohammed Jabateh also known as General Jungle Jabbah, kept his eyes on the jury as the federal judge read hour-long final instructions to the 12 person jury and 4 alternate jurors.

Jabateh is under federal charges for immigration fraud and perjury from his 1999 and 2011 asylum and green card applications in Philadelphia.

U. S. authorities have charged Jabateh was a ruthless rebel commander who rampaged villages during the civil war between 1992 and 1994.

Authorities charged that under his command, rebels in the ULIMO-K faction committed a wide range of war crimes including murder, rape, torture, cannibalism and enlisting child soldiers and sex slaves.

The judge reminded the jury that all jurors must agree for the verdict to stand.

"Whatever your verdict is, it must be unanimous on whatever you agree on, or there is no verdict," instructed the judge.

"Your job is to apply the law as I give it to you through this fact," he added.

"The defendant Mohammed Jabateh is not on trial for any other crimes."

"The defendant is on trial for immigration fraud and perjury. You must consider all the evidence presented in this trial - direct or circumstantial - or credible and believable."

Jabateh has pleaded not guilty to charges that he lied in his immigration applications and to immigration adjudication officers when he benefited from the United States asylum program.

His legal counsel Gregory Pagano on Tuesday stepped up his strategy to question the credibility of the government's witnesses and the Liberian human rights group that helped find victims.

Pagano questioned Global Justice's role in the two and half week old trial.

"We don't know its political motives, we don't know who's paying for it."

If there's s one common thread in these witnesses, its this Global Justice. Each and every witness is funneled to our govt by them.

Attorney Pagano then took a wild swing at prosecutors, saying, "these good men have been hoodwinked.

These good men have been emotionally vested in this case - not that they have anyting to gain.

But the time, money that's been put into this investigation is unlike anything I've seen before. They've been to Liberia 5 times, were prepared to go a 6th."

Continuing his accusations, he said "with a contingent of agents and translators, etc. Hassan Bility could have been brought here and put under oath and been asked to explain how he identified these witnesses."

In his rebuttal, prosecutor L. C. Wright went after Pagano for urging jurors to take into consideration the absence of DNA data, such as forensic, bones and other physical evidence.

"Forensics? You don't need bones to say that the person is dead. When they say they heard the shots and then their cousin was dead?

What do you need bones for?

As a result of that conflict, you can probably find bones all over Liberia. That's a tragedy.

There were dogs eating people in the street. We need to recover bones for DNA for who, for what?

It came from the mouths of witnesses."

The federal judge blasted defense counsel Pagano for asking the jury to consider a fact that was never introduced in the trial - such as Global Justice's role.

"You had the opportunity to examine that fact and the opportunity to recall the witnesses if you wanted to."

"I granted you that opportunity, instead you came in and put Global Justice on trial, " pointed Judge Diamond.

Jurors will continue to deliberate until they form a unanimous verdict.

Liberia

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