Son of ex-Liberian president Taylor pleads not guilty to charges of torture

[JURIST] Charles McArthur Emmanuel [JURIST news archive], son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, pleaded not guilty Monday to a US federal indictment charging him with involvement in killings and torture in Liberia. Emmanuel, a Boston-born US citizen, was the first person ever to be indicted under a 1994 federal anti-torture statute [18 USC 2340A text]. During his father's regime, Emmanuel was the leader of the Liberian anti-terrorist unit known by others as the "Demon Forces". The eight-count indictment accused Emmanuel of using electric shocks, lit cigarettes, stinging ants, molten plastic and bayonets to torture victims from 1999 to 2002. More specifically, he was accused of shooting three random victims at a April 1999 bridge checkpoint and then ordering another's throat slit after he attempted to escape.

In July, US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga upheld [JURIST report] the torture charges, rejecting Emmanuel's argument that the federal statute under which he was charged exceeds Congressional authority because it criminalizes behavior of foreign government officials outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. 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] for crimes against humanity. AP has more.

 

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