Jury in Philly selected to weigh alleged Liberian war criminal's case

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Opening arguments in the trial of Mohammed Jabateh, a Delaware County man accused of lying about his past as a warlord in the Liberian civil wars, are set to begin Tuesday. In this 1992 file photo, a young soldier from the ULIMO militia — a faction Jabateh fought for in the ’90s — listens to his commanding officer during a briefing of troops. (Hassan Amini / AP Photo)

A jury of eight women and four men was selected Monday to decide the fate of a Delaware County man who federal prosecutors say committed horrific atrocities in Liberia’s civil wars and later lied about them while seeking asylum in the United States.

Lawyers in the case of Mohammed Jabateh, 51, of East Lansdowne, are expected to deliver their opening arguments to the panel Tuesday.

Prosecutors have flown in more than 16 witnesses from Liberia who are expected to testify about a series of brutal rapes, murders, and acts of cannibalism Jabateh allegedly committed while fighting in the early ’90s under the nom de guerre “Jungle Jabbah.”

Jabateh has denied those allegations and pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to immigration authorities.

He could face up to 20 years in a U.S. prison if convicted. Immigration authorities have signaled they hope to deport him regardless of the trial’s outcome.