MIAMI – A U.S. grand jury is being asked to indict the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor on charges of committing torture as chief of a violent paramilitary unit during his father's regime, U.S. law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
If the indictment is returned, it would mark the first time a 12-year-old federal anti-torture law has ever been used, according to two federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy rules.
Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., can be charged under law because he is a U.S. citizen. Emmanuel, 29, was born in Boston in 1977 to a former girlfriend of Taylor, who was a college student there at the time.
Emmanuel is already in custody in Miami awaiting sentencing for falsifying his father's name to get a passport he used to enter the United States from Trinidad in March.
Emmanuel headed the Anti-Terrorist Unit in Liberia after his father became president in 1997. Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit international rights group, and Liberian witnesses have said the 800-man unit was involved in murders, torture, beatings and other abuse of civilians, recruitment of child soldiers and looting.
His father, meanwhile, faces trial next spring in The Hague, Netherlands on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing the murder, rape and mutilation of thousands of people during Sierra Leone's bloody 10-year civil war, many hacked to death with machetes. Taylor has pleaded not guilty.