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Son of Liberia ex-leader Taylor sentenced to 97 years in US prison for torture

[JURIST] The son of a former president of Liberia now on trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity was sentenced [DOJ press release] to a 97-year jail term in the US Friday by US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] for committing torture in Liberia. Charles Arthur Emmanuel, son of Charles Taylor [JURIST news archive] was found guilty [JURIST report] by a jury in October on charges [JURIST report] that he was the head of a paramilitary group which tortured and killed opponents during the presidency of Emmanuel's father. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga handed down the sentence [Reuters report] to Emmanuel, a US citizen born in Boston. Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Freidrich of the US Department of Justice Criminal Division Criminal Division said of the sentence:

The lengthy prison term handed down today justly reflects the horror and torture that Taylor Jr. visited upon his victims. This case was made in no small part by the courage of individual victims who had the mettle to come forward and speak the truth about what had been done to them . . . Our message to human rights violators, no matter where they are, remains the same: We will use the full reach of U.S. law, and every lawful resource at the disposal of our investigators and prosecutors, to hold you fully accountable for your crimes.
Emmanuel was the first person to be indicted under the 1994 extraterritorial federal anti-torture statute [18 USC §2340A text] permitting US federal courts to charge US citizens or those present in the US for torture that took place overseas.

Emmanuel was arrested in Miami on a passport violation in 2006 and pleaded guilty in September of that year. He was then indicted [JURIST report] on the torture charges by a federal grand jury that December. He pleaded not guilty, and in July 2008, 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. He was later denied bail [JURIST report] on grounds that he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

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