[JURIST] US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga upheld torture charges [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] Thursday against the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, Charles McArthur Emmanuel [JURIST news archive], rejecting Emmanuel's argument that a federal anti-torture statute [18 USC 2340A text] exceeds Congressional authority because it criminalizes behavior of foreign government officials outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Altonaga also rejected Emmanuel's assertion that the statute was vague in its definition of torture, ruling that Emmanuel's alleged conduct would be considered torture in the "civilized world." Emmanuel, whose trial is expected to begin in September, faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted of torture.
Emmanuel commanded a paramilitary unit in Liberia during his father's regime and is said to have abused a detainee with a hot iron, scalding water, and electric shocks in 2002. Last December, a federal judge denied bail for Emmanuel, ruling that Emmanuel was a flight risk and a danger to the community. Charles Taylor [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] is currently on trial in the The Hague before the Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website; JURIST news archive] for crimes against humanity. AP has more. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has additional coverage.