Federal appeals court upholds sentence for son of Liberia ex-president

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] on Thursday upheld [opinion, PDF] the torture convictions and sentence of Charles McArthur Emmanuel, son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor [JURIST news archives]. Emmanuel was sentenced [JURIST report] last year to 97 years in prison after being convicted in 2008 on charges [JURIST reports] that he was involved in torture and other crimes committed while he was the head of the paramilitary Anti-Terrorism Union (ATU), which tortured and killed opponents during the presidency of his father between 1997 and 2003. The court also upheld the 1994 federal anti-torture statute (the Torture Act) [18 USC § 2340A text], under which Emmanuel was charged. Emmanuel was the first individual to be indicted under the statute and argued that the Torture Act exceeded Congressional authority because it criminalizes behavior of foreign government officials outside the territorial jurisdiction of the US.

In February, a federal court ordered a final judgment of $22 million [JURIST] in the civil case against Emmanuel, to be paid to five torture victims. Emmanuel, a US citizen raised in Boston, 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 torture charges by a federal grand jury that December. He pleaded not guilty, and, in July 2008, a US District Court Judge upheld [JURIST report] the torture charges and rejected Emmanuel's constitutional argument. He was later denied bail [JURIST report] on grounds that he was a flight risk and a danger to the community. Emmanuel's father, Taylor, is currently on trial [case website] before the Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website] sitting at The Hague. Taylor faces 11 counts [indictment, PDF] of crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions [materials], and other violations of international humanitarian law stemming from a "campaign to terrorize the civilian population" of Sierra Leone.

 

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