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US court begins jury selection for case against son of Charles Taylor

[JURIST] Jury selection began Wednesday in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] for the torture trial of Charles McArthur Emmanuel [JURIST news archive], son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Earlier this month, Emmanuel pleaded [JURIST report] not guilty after he was indicted [JURIST report] in December on charges that he was involved with killings and torture in Liberia. Emmanuel, a US citizen raised in Boston, was the first person indicted under a 1994 federal anti-torture statute [18 USC 2340A text]. The eight-count indictment [PDF text; DOJ press release] 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. AP has more. The Miami Herald has local coverage.

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 [JURIST report] for Emmanuel, ruling that he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

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