Trial Day 5: Week 2 Begins
The second week of the “Jungle Jabbah” trial began Tuesday morning with the continuation of the cross-examination of witness nine, Pepper and Salt's brother.
On Thursday the witness's testimony left off with him mentioning the "fifteen person massacre." Defense counsel Pagano continued his cross-examination with that point asking the witness where it occurred and when. The witness responded that the massacre took place between Lofa Bridge and Bomi Hill after the ULIMO split in 1994. Asking the witness how old he was at the time, he responded: "please calculate, I am 38 years old now." The witness stated that he was with his brother when the massacre happened and that his brother and "Jungle Jabbah" had tied the people up and turned them over to General Deku. He testified that he had asked his brother who they were, and his brother told him that they were Krahn people; he didn't witness the execution. Defense counsel pressed the witness on whether or not he ever reported any of these things to anyone, and he responded that "it was a rebel time, I didn't tell anyone" continuing that at his age at that time he didn't know anything about reporting to the newspapers or the United Nations or ECOMOG. He testified that he told the prosecution team and before that he had told a Liberian man.
Defense counsel also asked whether the witness knew about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and that people had testified there, he stated that he knew about it but didn't know how many people had given statements. The cross-examination continued revisiting the witness's testimony about when he met his brother at the Po River Bridge and what his brother's rank was at that time; the witness restated that his brother was a battalion commander and that General Deku ranked below him. Asked about the incident when the NPFL prisoners were burned and whether he saw them buried or saw a hole in the ground, the witness stated that he hadn't but that "after they were killed [he] saw their burnt bodies."
The prosecution asked the witness one question on re-direct: "do you know if anyone has been prosecuted in Liberia regarding acts from the first civil war?" The witness responded, "no."
The government's next witness, a member of the Kpelle ethnic group, testified about living in Bopulu County when the NPFL came into their town. When asked if he was an adult like he is now at that time the witness responded: "no I didn't have grey hair, now I have grey hair." He testified that the NPFL soldiers ordered everyone to come outside. The soldiers asked if there were any Mandingo and when no one responded they captured two Mandingo men and lined up all the people from the village and forced them to watch as they cut off one of the man's ear. The witness stated that he closed his eyes and when he opened them he saw the other man rolling on the ground with blood shooting out of his mouth. His friend told him that they needed to escape, so they went and hid in the bush. At some point, they heard sounds and ULIMO soldiers came into the bush and said they were free again. This freedom changed after the ULIMO split; he testified that the commanders at that time in Bakerstown were Badblood Django, Tutuboy, and above them was "Jungle Jabbah." He stated that he saw Jabbateh in Bakerstown and described him as black with dada (dreadlocks).
The witness specified that when the two men were captured, it was under Badblood Django's command. He stated that the soldiers told the townspeople to cut bamboo and the soldiers used it to tie the two men. The soldiers then put the men in a well and covered the top with dried bamboo, before pouring gas on it and lighting it on fire. The witness stated that he heard the men crying until they died. He told the court that the ULIMO would also make people carry palm oil to the barracks in Bopulu. It was about a two-hour and thirty-minute walk, "according to people with watches"; civilians weren't allowed to have watches at that time.
The witness testified that if anyone refused to carry the palm oil, the soldiers would put them in the "rice kitchen." He described it as a kitchen the soldiers built where they kept rice in the attic; if someone disobeyed, the soldiers would order them into the attic, and then they'd light a fire in the kitchen and pour in pepper, which caused the person in the attic to sneeze a lot and scream in pain.
In Bopulu the witness testified that the ULIMO soldiers invited civilians to eat and his friend told him that they were eating human meat. He stated that at another point the ULIMO group came and brought everyone into town and separated the sick from the healthy. The soldiers told them that “Jungle Jabbah” had an accident. After a while, there was an order to beat the sick and to "mark" the people that were healthy. The witness testified that they cut his hand first and said "his blood is not shooting" so they made him come back to them and cut him again. The government then admitted a photo of the scar on the witness's arm ("hand") from being cut.
He testified that, hammed Farhadi and Badblood Django took him and the other people that weren't sick about four hours away to a stream and bridge. When they got there, they saw metal, guns, bullets, RPG's, a German saw, and a dead body in the creak. He testified that he knew the saw was German because his friend told him the writing on the saw was in German, and he had also seen similar saws when he saw a sawmill in another town. The soldiers forced them into the water and said they needed to take the RPG's out, so they passed them person-by-person up the hill. When asked about the body, the witness stated that it was in the water, but the engine was on top of it, so the villagers had to use pieces of wood to flip the engine over and get the body out.
The prosecution showed a photo to the witness that of a sign that said "Jungle Jabbah Bridge Belle Resources Limited." The witness testified that the sign was put up because “Jungle Jabbah” did so many terrible things that the people couldn’t forget him, so they named the bridge after him.
On cross-examination, the witness was asked about when he met with the prosecution team in Liberia. He stated that he had met them there but couldn't remember the month because he did not even know his birthday. When pressed about how they met, the witness testified that he met them through a Liberian man and that he brought them his complaint because they'd had their team “all over town.” The witness was asked how many times he'd seen Jabbateh, and the witness stated that he saw him four times. The first was in the barracks in Bopulu, the second time was in the same barracks in Bopulu more than a month later, the third was in Backwest town, and the fourth time was at the bridge.
On re-direct, the prosecution clarified that the witness knew the saw it was German because there were marks he couldn't read and he had seen similar saws at the sawmill when he went to visit a friend in Bemba.
The government's third witness of the day testified that he is a member of the Bassa ethnic group born in Liberia. He stated that he had an Aunt that lived in Johnstown when the war came to Liberia, and his aunt had a son that he referred to as his brother. At some point, he had contact with a group of soldiers that he referred to as "Jabbah group." He described "Jungle Jabbah" as a general who had soldiers. He testified that while he was visiting his Aunt in Johnstown, he saw a group of soldiers coming into town and Jungle Jabbah was with them. He stated that it was the second time he had seen Jabbateh and that the first time, he hid because the fighters would make all the young people work for them. He described Jabbateh at that time as being skinny, wearing shades, with dreadlocks and dark skin and identified him in a picture.
The witness testified that when the soldiers came into town, everyone started running, which was when they arrested him and his brother. He told the court that he started asking, "why are you arresting us, what did we do?" and the soldiers tied them in duck fa tabae fashion, with the elbows pulled behind their back. The witness stated that this caused him pain in his chest and his hands. He testified that "Jungle Jabbah" was there with his group, some of which were children. Because the witness kept complaining, Jabbateh ordered the soldiers to bring him closer and said they should amputate him. The witness testified that Jabbateh wanted to kill him, but he started to beg so he instead ordered for the soldiers "to amputate him, " and they cut off his ear. The prosecution then asked the witness to stand and take off his hat to show the jury and the court his ear.
On cross-examination, defense counsel asked the witness whether he knew what rebel group his tribe was allied with during the civil war but the witness stated that where he was living his tribe remained neutral. Pressing the witness on whether he'd ever told anyone what happened to him, he stated that at that time you couldn't find anybody to report to because there was a war going on. He later spoke with an organization in Liberia and eventually the prosecution team, which was when he saw the photo of “Jungle Jabbah.”
The government's fourth witness of the day testified about Patient's farm, a place he used to go to with his father when he was a child. When asked whether rebels ever came there he said, "whenever I think about what happened there, whenever I think about that moment, it breaks my heart." One day while he was at the farm with his father and other children and women, he heard firing sounds and soldier broke into the farm. The witness stated they continue to fire their guns and then he heard, "Cease fire! Cease fire!" After the firing stopped, he saw "Jungle Jabbah" for the first time. He described Jabbateh as having dreadlocks, in a dark shirt, with dark shades, stating, "when you see his face you would understand he's an evil human being." The witness said he called himself, "Jungle Jabbah, King of the Jungle." He testified that Jabbateh and his fighters began "terrifying the people," stripping all the women down to their underwear. The witness testified that his father wanted to say something because he was so upset about what was happening but when he tried to talk, the soldier "hit him, kicked him, slapped him, and shouted, "Shut up! Who do you think you are? Do you want to die?"" Jabbateh, he said, told the soldiers they should whip him and then ordered his soldiers to tie all the men in "duck fa tabae" and separate them from the women and children.
Getting visibly emotional, the witness stated, "I was watching, and my heart was breaking, I couldn't do anything." They brought the men to one side and the women and children to the other; they took away the children's shoes and slapped him when he started to cry. The witness stated that "Jungle Jabbah" went with the group of men that his father was in and the women and children were brought to a hut somewhere in the bush. The prosecutor asked the witness to describe the hut, and he stated that he could draw it, which the court permitted him to do on a large easel for the jury to see. Indicating separate spaces in the drawing of the hut, the witness stated that the women were on one side and the children were on the other, surrounded by armed men. The witness testified that the soldiers would gather them and sing, "if you don't like ULIMO you will be killed like a dog," and laugh.
The soldiers said that from that day, all the women were their women and that there were no children during the war, so all the children must work. The women were used to cook, and clean, and as sexual objects that they had "sex with whenever they wanted." The witness stated that the children could see the women being raped but that if they were caught peaking the soldiers would kill them. He testified that "when they got in that sexual mode," the soldiers would violently grab any woman, and at times even two or three men would take one woman. While they were working, they would see the soldiers laughing, smoking and gambling in the yard. He also stated that he saw "Jungle Jabbah" at the hut and recognized him from the farm. The soldiers that were at the hut addressed Jabbateh as "Sir" and saluted him.
When asked if there was a time that he left the hut, the witness stated that he couldn't remember what happened, but remembers having his hand in a woman's hand that took him to Monrovia. He hasn't seen his father since he was taken that day at Patient's farm.
On cross-examination, the witness was asked what group the Kpelle tribe associated with during the civil war, but he stated he didn't know. When asked if he met with the prosecution team in Liberia, the witness told the court that he had and was introduced to them by an organization in Liberia.
The government's next witness testified that he was from Grand Cape Mount County in Liberia but was living with his family in Kakata when the war began. He stated that in part of 1992 while NPFL soldiers were in Kakata, there was an attack by ULIMO soldiers. The witness and his family tried to move to several towns, but they were "not suitable" because of the war. They eventually went to Wishaw in Grand Cape Mount County where there were also ULIMO fighters. The witness testified that the head of ULIMO in Wishaw was "Jungle Jabbah," and there were few other generals there that were below him. He described "Jungle Jabbah" at the time as being slim, with dreads, and black in complexion. This witness also positively identified Jabbateh in photos.
He said that he thought Wishaw was safe for them, but it was dangerous, there was no food, and they had to hide from the rebels in the bush. At some point, the witness's mother sent him to get a half bag of rice when he was on his way back he was attacked by "Jungle Jabbah" soldiers who told him to give them the rice. When he repeatedly refused they started beating him, "gashed [him] with a bayonet and forcibly took the rice." The witness identified pictures of his scars from the bayonet and beating.
After the witness returned home, he said he told his father, who decided to confront Jabbah and find out what happened and get permission for him to be treated. "Within the twinkle of an eye, General Jungle Jabbah immediately released an order to strip my father butt-naked" and tied him in duck fa tabae, said the witness. The next day he died from internal bleeding.
The soldiers let the witness go, and he went back to his mother is the bush. The next day they heard that people had seen his father naked and dead in the street. His older sister began to cry and said she was going to go find out why "Jungle Jabbah" had killed her father. The witness testified that he decided to follow her and saw his father lying outside on the street dead. He also stated that he saw his sister crying and confronting "Jungle Jabbah" who ordered his soldiers to take her away. The witness testified that he hid in the bush and saw four soldiers take his sister away to an unfinished building and rape her.
On cross-examination, the defense counsel asked the witness what tribe he is in, and he responded, "Gio." He testified that he didn't know what rebel group the Gio people supported because he wasn't a part of the war and never went to the battlefields; he just saw some soldiers do bad things. Asked about his bayonet wound and when he received treatment, the witness stated that he was treated later, probably in 1993. When asked if he'd ever reported any of these crimes and about why he waited twenty years to speak up, the witness stated that there were only rebel soldiers back then and he didn't have a specific year he was waiting for, he "was only waiting for justice."
The government's subsequent witness was witness 13's older sister. She was asked about when her family was in Wishaw, and her brother came home bleeding. The witness testified that her father went to ask Chief Jabbah what happened and Jabbateh ordered his soldiers to tie her father, and he never came back. The next day some people came from town to where she was hiding and told her and her family that her father was lying in the street naked. She testified that she got up right away and went to see him. When she got into town she saw her father's body lying in the street, naked, with his two hands, legs, and arms tied, blood coming from his nose and mouth. The witness told the court that she started to cry and soldiers called "Jungle Jabbah" and told him a woman was crying in front of the house. When Jabbateh got there, she stated that he stood for a while and then told his soldiers to get her out of his sight because, "during war, tears were not allowed."
She testified that four soldiers took her away to an unfinished building and beat her. One of the soldiers wanted to kill her, but another said that they "shouldn't waste a bullet" on her and should rape her instead. She fought as they tried to force her legs open and one of the soldiers shot a bullet into the ground between her legs that injured her. "I have marks all on me" the witness stated. The witness identified pictures of her injuries, including, a knife mark right below her right eye, teeth marks on her right shoulder and left hand, and a knife mark near her knee.
The prosecutor then asked her whether she remembered meeting an agent assigned to the case in Liberia; she responded that she did. She stated that they showed her a picture and she recognized "Jungle Jabbah."
On cross-examination, the witness stated that she never got treatment for her wounds because there was no hospital at that time. She confirmed that she remembered meeting with the prosecutors in Monrovia and that she had gone to Monrovia when there was a ceasefire in 1994. Defense counsel questioned her about the year of her father's murder and her rape, and she responded that it was the end of 1993.
The government's last witness of the day testified about when the civil war got to Dasalamu. The witness testified that the NPFL arrived first and had the whole area under its control until ULIMO fighters drove them out. The witness testified that at first when ULIMO was there things were okay and people could go to the market for food and come home safely. At some point, while the witness was in Lofa Bridge going to sell oil, he met "Jungle Jabbah" at a checkpoint. He described "Jungle Jabbah" as being slim with dreadlocks and black skin.
The witness asked if he could stand for the rest of his testimony, which the court allowed him to do.
He stated that the second time he saw Jabbateh was at another checkpoint on his way to Monrovia carrying cassava. The witness explained that before he could cross the checkpoint, he had to enter the office for questing. He said ULIMO fighters were controlling the checkpoint and that when he came out, the young boys who controlled the car ("carboys") said "the boss" wanted to use the car and took it with three loads of the cassava to Bomi. The witness stated that he saw Jabbateh in another car, and they said they were going on an operation, but he didn't know what that meant. The witness stated that soldiers told him that the loads they stole were a credit and that when he came back from Monrovia he would get money for it, although he never did.
The third time the witness stated that he saw Jabbateh was in Sinkor where ECOMOG was teaching. He testified that ULIMO-K, Alhaji Kromah's group, and Jabbateh called a meeting with representatives of the villages and said that if any soldiers harass people in the community, the town chiefs should bring a complaint to ECOMOG. The witness stated that he went to the meeting with his Aunt's husband, the town chief, and heard Jabbateh speak.
The witness testified that a few months later two of his friends came to his town and told him that ULIMO-K soldiers captured the people on a farm and were making them pound rice. The men said that the soldiers were also raping the girls and women. Early the next morning the witness saw a group of soldiers coming into his town; the soldiers shot one of his friends right in front of him before chaos broke out. The witness stated that as he ran to his Aunt's house he passed another man who'd been shot. He testified that he brought his Aunt and her children into the bush and watched as the soldiers forced people to carry all of their belongings with them to Danielstown.
After ULIMO attacked his village, the witness told the town chief that they had to report the murder and other shootings to ECOMOG. He stated that they took the back road to Sinkor where ECOMOG was and reported to the commissioner what the soldiers had done. The commissioner, a government-appointed official, told them that he wouldn't believe them unless they brought the bodies of the dead and injured. So, the witness testified, they went back to their village and carried the dead body and the three injured persons in hammocks back to ECOMOG. When they arrived, ECOMOG arranged for a helicopter to take the wounded to Monrovia and buried the witnesses friend.
It was more than three months before the men from the village that had been shot returned from Monrovia. The witness testified that sometime after they returned, while he was on a farm one evening, he saw a group of soldiers approaching who told all the men to go to town. He stated that he recognized several of the generals including a man he called Sharif. He indicated that he knew Sharif before the war and that they had been friends. When the soldiers brought the men to the village, they said their boss, "Jungle Jabbah," was in town. The witness testified that the soldiers took the men and the women and separated them into two rooms in the "bosses" house. While they were there, the witness stated that he could see one of his "brothers" bodies on the road; his chest covered in stab wounds and a gunshot to his leg. The soldiers told them that this second time they were going to kill them since they'd gone to Monrovia and survived.
The witness testified that while he was in the house, he heard them call the town chief and ask for a plate. Later, very late at night, Sharif came to him and said they killed one of the men from the village. In the early hours of the morning, the witness heard gunshots and the voice of one of the men from his town screaming for his wife or mother or sister. Sharif came back to him again and said that he would help him escape if he followed his directions. The witness got emotional during his testimony and said that the reason he wanted to stand and testify was because he "want[s] everyone to see [his] face, [he] doesn't want to hide from anyone."
The witness was ultimately able to escape, and when he spoke to his Aunt in the bush, she told him that they had killed her husband and brought her his heart to cook.
Witness 15 will continue to testify on Wednesday morning.