US jury convicts son of Liberia ex-president of torture

[JURIST] A jury for the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] on Thursday found Charles McArthur Emmanuel, son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [JURIST news archive], guilty of charges [JURIST report] that he was involved in torture and other crimes in Liberia between 1999 and 2002. Emmanuel, a US citizen raised in Boston, had pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges and was the first person indicted under a 1994 federal anti-torture statute [18 USC 2340A text]. Both rights groups [HRW release] and US prosecutors applauded the conviction, and in a Department of Justice press release [text] US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [JURIST news archive] said:

Today’s conviction provides a measure of justice to those who were victimized by the reprehensible acts of Charles Taylor Jr. and his associates... It sends a powerful message to human rights violators around the world that, when we can, we will hold them fully accountable for their crimes.
Emmanuel was found guilty of all eight charges included in his 2006 indictment [DOJ press release], including five counts of torture, one count of using a firearm to commit a violent crime, and two related conspiracy charges. His sentencing is set for January 9, 2009 and he faces as much as life in prison. AFP has more.

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 exceeded 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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