Trial Day 7: Nearing the end of the Government's Case
Witness 20 (continued)
The prosecution resumed its questioning Thursday morning with the witness's capture by ULIMO soldiers in Bopulu. The witness testified that he was taken to Bopulu by Jungle Jabbah's fighters who told their Chief, Jungle Jabbah, that he was a member of ULIMO-J. He stated that Jabbateh came close to him with a pistol in his hand and told the soldiers to take him to jail. When asked by the prosecutor whether the prosecution team showed him a photograph in Liberia, he testified that they had and that he recognized Jungle Jabbah as the man in the photo with shades and 'dada' hair or dreadlocks.
The witness testified on Wednesday that Jabbateh ordered the soldiers to bring the captives to Lofa Bridge. He stated on Thursday that Jabbateh changed his mind and told them that they were going to Henry Town. The witness reported that he remembered Pepper and Salt and Mohammed Farhadi as commanders with the group. The soldiers guarded the captives as they walked to Henry Town. When they arrived there, the soldiers took them to a diamond well and immediately assigned them to dig pits. The witness stated that the soldiers were there guarding them and that he was forced to dig diamonds like a slave. They had to dig in a swamp without shoes on; if they refused the soldiers would beat or kill them. He testified that not all of the soldiers were adults; some of them were small boys. Jungle Jabbah would come to the mine to talk to the soldiers and warned them that if anyone tried to run the soldiers should kill them. The witness referred to Jabbateh as the "big boss" and said that he often carried a silver pistol.
When the witness found diamonds, he said that they had to give them to commander Pepper and Salt or Mohammed Farhadi who would keep it for their boss, Jungle Jabbah. He testified that although he never saw the commanders give the diamonds to Jabbateh because he wasn't present in the office, whenever Jabbateh would come to the mine the commanders would go directly to him. The witness spent about six months or more in Henry Town and said that Jabbateh came there five or more times. He was able to escape one day when a group of soldiers arrived at the mines accusing other soldiers of stealing diamonds. When fighting broke out amongst the soldiers, the people digging the wells were able to run away, and the witness escaped back to his village.
On cross-examination, the witness confirmed that the prosecution team showed him only one photograph of Jabbateh. When asked whether the first time he ever reported anything was to the prosecution team, the witness stated that it wasn't the first time and that he'd told his family and some friends. He also confirmed that he hadn't reported anything to ECOMOG or the United Nations.
The second witness of the day testified that in 1994 he went to Kungbor in Grand Cape Mount County to work in a diamond mine. He stated that ULIMO-K was there, and recalled the names of several commanders that were there including Jungle Jabbah. He testified that Jungle Jabbah was the overall boss of the fighters and that he had heard the soldiers talking about their Zebra Battalion. The witness stated that the first time he saw Jungle Jabbah he was walking to the diamond creek with his friend and his friend was telling him about the behavior of the soldiers when they saw a commander coming in a jeep with dreadlocks on his head. His friend told him that the man with dreadlocks was Jungle Jabbah and was the chief of the whole area and that everyone, including the fighters, was afraid of him. The witness testified when he saw Jungle Jabbah the jeep was about three or four feet away from him on the narrow interior road.
The witness testified that mining changed after it came under ULIMO-K control. Guards watched over the workers; there had been nothing like that before. The miners weren’t free to leave at will and could not refuse to work. While he was in the mines, he said that the commanders and small (child) soldiers would guard them and the only free time you had was if you asked to use the restroom. The witness stated that if someone owned a diamond creek, they would have someone guarding the people mining but if someone stole a diamond, there were local buyers you could meet in the bush at night and negotiate prices.
When ULIMO was at the mines, they would stand around the point where the jiggers were sifting for diamonds and make them hand over any diamonds they found. The witness testified that Jungle Jabbah had a representative at his part of the creek that was called Yellowjacket. One day, the witness’s friend and him were in the water jigging when his friend's eye got itchy. He testified that his friend put his jig down to scratch his eye when the small (child) soldiers saw and told the commander that he had been putting diamonds in his mouth. The commanders came over to his friend and searched his mouth but couldn't find anything, so they assumed he swallowed it and forced him to take medicine that would give him diarrhea. When the soldiers still couldn't find any diamonds they beat his friend until he was sick for a week.
The witness stated that he was living in his fiancé’s father's house while he was in Henry Town and one day while he was home from work the chief sent for his fiancé. He testified that his fiancé and her friend were outside in front of the house when she called for him to come out and he saw two boys who said that the chief wanted to see her. The witness followed his fiancé to where Jungle Jabbah was where he saw Jabbateh take his fiancé’s hand and told her to go with him. He recalled Jungle Jabbah say to his fiancé, “let’s go enjoy ourselves.” At the time his fiancé was two months pregnant so the witness, feeling brave at that moment, took her hand and told Jabbateh "that's my woman, she's pregnant." The witness stated that Jabbateh had a pistol in his hand and hit him with it over his left eye before the small (child) soldiers began kicking him. He went back to his room, and sometime later his fiancé returned, crying, and told him that Jungle Jabbah raped her. The witness recalled that they cried together in their room. About two weeks later his fiancé had a miscarriage and fell sick. Because they weren't able to find her any medicine, she died.
The witness was ultimately able to escape to Lofa Bridge one day when he didn't go to the creek. He testified he recognized Jungle Jabbah in the photograph that the prosecution team showed him while they were in Liberia. He stated that Jabbateh was easy to identify because he always had 'dada' or dreadlocks on his head. He was shown a photograph in court and again recognized Jabbateh, stating he was the man with the 'dada' on his head and the gun belt.
On cross-examination, the witness stated that the picture shown to him in court was the photo he saw when the prosecutors were in Liberia. He confirmed that he identified Jabbateh because he has the same hair as Jungle Jabbah. When asked about the day his fiancé was raped, the witness told defense counsel that he was able to stay home because the soldiers only forced them to work if they saw you. When asked about the day he escaped, the witness agreed that he hadn't gone to the creek that day and was able to escape. Defense counsel pressed the witness on the timing of the civil war and whether the first civil war was going on in 1994. Defense counsel also asked the witness what group his tribe, Bandi, associated with during the civil war but the witness responded that during a civil war your association was based on individual differences and that he was a civilian throughout. He also testified that he had been introduced to U.S. prosecutors through an organization in Liberia.
The last witness of the day testified that she was a little girl living with her family in Bong mine when the war came. She stated that her family ran away from Bong mine and into the bush when the freedom fighters arrived in 1990. In 1994 she went back to Bong mine, but the ULIMO was there, and so her family ran away to Haindi. ULIMO was also in control of Haindi, and the witness stated that while she was there, she saw Jungle Jabbah three times.
The first time she said that he put a heavy box of ammo on her head and forced her to walk to another village under the guard of his soldiers. She stated that the soldiers were beating the civilians as they walked and that if they didn't stand strong, the soldiers would push them down into the street. She described Jungle Jabbah as being skinny with dark skin, and dreadlocks. The witness testified that Jungle Jabbah was in charge of all the soldiers. The next time she saw Jabbateh, she said it was early in the morning, and the NPFL came to attack. Because "he was the big boss, he was in front of the fight, " and she saw him shooting while she hid in an old house. She stated that he learned at some point that ULIMO fighters were fighting each other because they had "mixed understanding among themselves" and so they split into ULIMO-J and ULIMO-K.
The last time the witness saw Jabbateh, she stated that it was in the evening and the NPFL again came to attack. Everyone started to run, and she ran to the St. Paul River with another woman and a man. The river was very wide, but a man helped them cross on a wood raft. After they crossed the river, ULIMO-K captured them and took them to their base in Waybama. She stated that the fighters put them in jail and said they were waiting for their boss, Chief Jungle Jabbah. The next morning the soldiers brought them outside and made them beat rice. Before long Chief Jungle Jabbah got to town and the soldiers happily said: "the boss is here!" They told Jabbateh that the people were captured on the river and said they were spies for ULIMO-J.
Jabbateh stood for a while and then looked at the man and said he is a spy and ordered the soldiers to kill him. The man cried, saying, "please, I'm begging you guys, I'm not a spy," but the soldiers dragged him, tied him in duck fa tabae style, tied him to a Kola tree and cut his neck. The witness testified that Jabbateh watched the soldiers kill the man and then came back to her and the other woman. He told the soldiers, "you can take them, they are your women and when they refuse, you can kill them." The witness stated that one of the soldiers named Jukinee started dragging her away and took her to a house and raped her; she was eight months pregnant at the time. She stated that he held her for three days and on the second day she had a miscarriage. Jukinee raped her all three days.
One night while the soldiers were having a party the witness was able to escape. She testified that the soldiers were all drunk and she went outside because of a pain in her stomach and ran into the bush. While she was in the bush, she heard Jukinee go back to the house and then start calling for his friends yelling, "my wife ran away, when we find her I will kill her." The witness stated that she got into the river but because she couldn't cross she lay down in the water and held onto a tree root so that the soldiers wouldn't see her. "When I would shake, I thought they would see."
She heard them looking all around, but they couldn't find her; the water was cold, but she stayed in until the morning. The following day, after walking in the bush for a while, she saw an older woman and man. She stated that when they saw her, they started to run, but came back when she started crying. They took her to their house, and the woman made her traditional medicine. After a week the witness stated that she went to look for her family in Haindi. When she got there, she asked a woman about her parents and the woman told her that her father was captured during the attack, but her mother was in another town. The witness went to find her mother and saw that she was sick and eventually died of cholera. She never saw her father again.
The witness identified a photograph of the Kola tree where she saw the man murdered by Jabbateh's soldiers. She also identified Jabbateh in a photo taken during the civil war, describing him as the man with dreadlocks.
On cross-examination, the witness stated that she came into contact with prosecutors through an organization in Liberia. She was living in a village at the time when a representative of the organization came and asked the village chief who'd been wounded during the war. She eventually went with the man to Monrovia but said she does not recall the date.
The trial will resume on Monday morning with the government's last witness. The defense case will likely begin Monday afternoon and continue through next week.