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Ex-Liberian president's son convicted of torture

  • Story Highlights
  • Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr. is also known as Charles McArthur Emmanuel
  • Prosecutors: Taylor was leader of groups that burned and beat people
  • Taylor guilty of torture and conspiracy to commit torture
  • He is first to be tried under law allowed overseas torture acts to be tried in U.S.
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From John Couwels
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(CNN) -- Federal jurors convicted the son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor Sr. of torture and conspiracy charges Thursday, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in the southern district of Florida.

Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., also known as Charles McArthur Emmanuel, was found guilty on one count of torture, one count of conspiracy to commit torture and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, said Alicia Valle, special counsel to the U.S. attorney.

Taylor's case, tried in Miami, Florida, was the first brought under a 1994 United States law saying those accused of committing torturous acts overseas can be tried in a U.S. federal court.

"Today's conviction provides a measure of justice to those who were victimized by the reprehensible acts of Charles Taylor Jr. and his associates," Attorney General Michael Mukasey said in a written statement.

"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."

He could face a sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced January 8.

Although Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts, he moved to Liberia when his father was named president.

Prosecutors said Taylor became the leader of the Anti-Terrorist Unit and the Liberian National Police while his father was president. The two groups are accused of abducting, torturing and killing people.

According to prosecutors, Taylor committed torture and allowed others to commit torture. They burned certain victims with molten plastic, lighted cigarettes, candle wax and an iron; severely beat victims with firearms and cut and stabbed victims; and shocked certain victims with an electric device, prosecutors said in an indictment that superceded the initial indictment from 2006.

In the initial indictment, Taylor was charged with one count of torture, one count of conspiracy to torture and one count of using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

The superceding September 2007 indictment -- which incorporated the initial charges -- included five counts of torture, one count of conspiracy to torture, one count of using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and one count of conspiracy to use a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

The defense had said the U.S. government had little or no evidence to back up its claims.

Charles Taylor Sr. is standing trial in The Hague, Netherlands, on war crimes charges.

He was sentenced to 11 months in prison but was ordered detained on the torture charges and not released when that sentence expired, the U.S. attorney's office said.

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