A Liberian Court has brought down a unanimous guilty verdict on two persons, Dib Edmond Kassabli and Anthony Kassabli in Monrovia for illicit human trafficking and gang rape. On July 31, 2013, the Defendants were indicted by the grand jury of Montserrado County for illicit human trafficking and gang rape and trial of the case commenced at the beginning of the August Term of court. During the trial, Prosecution produced eleven witnesses while defendants produced three witnesses.
According to court records, on Tuesday, December 31, the defendants were found guilty of both counts of human trafficking and gang rape by a unanimous verdict of the jury. The case observers believe it is significant for the Liberian Government, as combating human trafficking is an indicator for the government in respect of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Liberia is currently on the U.S Government Tier 2 Watch List, which means that Liberia is at the risk of being placed on economic sanctions if the country is given a lower ranking for its failure to combat human trafficking.
The victims, five Moroccan nationals and a Tunisian, were promised employment at the Moulin Bar and Restaurant as bar attendants, cooks, and musical entertainers for a monthly salary of US$500. Moulin Rouje Bar and Restaurant is owned by Co-Defendant, Dib Edmond Kassabli and was operated by Co-Defendant Anthony Kassabli.
Moulin Bar and Restaurant through the instrumentality of the defendants recruited, facilitated the travel of the victims to Liberia by obtaining air visa for them and transported the victims by purchasing air tickets for them under the deception that they would be given employment, good salary, a decent place to stay, meals and care, including weekly hair dressing.
While, the victims were in Liberia, the defendants gradually initiated their sinister motive, court records disclosed. According to the records, the victims’ first astonishment and surprise was the living quarters that the defendants made available for them. “The residence was a dilapidated building with six mattresses on the floor; the commode was broken; there was no running water and the victims were usually starved,” the court said in the ruling. It also added that water was provided in sachets for bathing, and because water was often insufficient, they had to ration same and could not afford to wash their hair.
At the restaurant according to the ruling, Co-defendant Anthony Kassabli began carrying out transactions regarding the victims for the purpose of instigating the victims to commit prostitution, the refusal of which led to the victims being raped. The ruling added that Co-defendant Anthony Kassabli would force the victims to consume huge amount of alcohol, receive money from his customers at the restaurant and force the girls to have sex with his customers in exchange.
The ruling points to a particular situation where Co-defendants Anthony Kassabli dragged one of the victims into the vehicle of an identified Chinese national who had paid him )Anthony Kassabli) to have sex with the victim.
The Government of Liberia was robust in 2013 on issues of human trafficking. Liberia launched its Human Trafficking National Action Plan last year and amended the 2005 Act on Trafficking in persons to include migrant smuggling. Several cases of human trafficking are also being investigated for possible prosecution. With the successful prosecution of the RL v Kassabli case, the government of Liberia’s image in its fight against trafficking will be enhanced.