Trial in foreign torture case set


Published: Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 6, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

MIAMI — A federal judge set a September trial date for the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in the first prosecution ever under a 1994 law making it a crime for a U.S. citizen to commit torture in foreign countries.

Attorneys for Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., told U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga at a hearing Friday that they will file a motion challenging the constitutionality of that law.

"We feel we are on firm ground legally," said assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rochlin.

Altonaga agreed to the Sept. 4 trial date in part to provide time for the constitutional issue to be fully argued. She ordered that the defense's challenging motion be filed on Feb. 16.

Emmanuel, 29, is the Boston-born son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Emmanuel is accused of torturing a Liberian man in 2002 while head of his father's Anti-Terrorism Unit, which human rights organizations say is responsible for widespread killing, torture, kidnapping, rape and other crimes.

Emmanuel was arrested in March at Miami International Airport for using a fake name for his father on a U.S. passport application. He pleaded guilty and is serving 11 months.

Taylor faces trial later this year before a special United Nations tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged acts during a civil war in Sierra Leone. Taylor has pleaded not guilty.

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