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Son of Liberia ex-president rejects torture claims

Son of Liberia ex-president rejects torture claims

The son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Friday rejected as "propaganda" the claims that he oversaw torture and widespread human rights abuses while head of an elite paramilitary unit while his father ruled the African nation.
Charles Emmanuel, also known as Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., said in a closing statement that very little corroboration exists to back up allegations by five torture victims _ even though he was convicted of torture in a U.S. criminal trial and sentenced to 97 years in prison.
"This is all very questionable," said Emmanuel, acting as his own lawyer in the multimillion-dollar civil case. "This notion that I'm this human rights abuser, this poster boy for human rights abuse, is deceptive and propaganda."
Emmanuel, 32, also insisted that he has no money or assets if the five Liberians win court judgments that could easily total millions of dollars each. Lawyers for the Liberians have suggested that Emmanuel and his father have numerous overseas accounts and as well as access to diamonds that could pay off such a judgment.
"I am not attached to President Taylor's assets or any accounts that he has. We are totally separate," said Emmanuel, a U.S. citizen born in Boston while Taylor was a college student there in 1977.
U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan, who previously issued a judgment against Emmanuel in the lawsuit, said he would determine the issue of damages against by the end of February.
The five Liberians suffer lasting physical and emotional scars from their torture, which included being held in filthy pits of chest-high water, suffering sexual abuse, being shocked with electric devices and having their genitals mutilated, according to testimony and court documents. Such acts and worse, including murder, were typical of the Antiterrorist Unit known as the "demon forces" that Emmanuel commanded after joining his father in Liberia in 1997.
In his statement Friday, Emmanuel said Liberia's bloody civil conflict was "terrible and unfortunate" for people on all sides.
"No family was spared from tragedy. We were all affected," he said.
The elder Taylor completed an economics degree in the United States, where his son was born in 1977, before rising to power as a rebel warlord in Liberia, the African nation founded by freed U.S. slaves in the 1800s. He was elected president in 1997 and left power in 2003 under pressure from the United States.
The father is being tried before a United Nations tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing murder, rape and mutilation of thousand of people during neighboring Sierra Leone's 10-year civil war.
Emmanuel's criminal prosecution was the first and only under a 1994 law allowing U.S. prosecution for torture and atrocities committed overseas. Emmanuel was tried in Miami because he was arrested here in 2006 for a passport violation.


Updated : 2021-08-06 02:57 GMT+08:00