MIAMI — Charles McArthur Emmanuel, the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and head of a savage paramilitary unit known as the "Demon Forces," was sentenced Friday to 97 years in prison for torture overseas in the first U.S. case of its kind.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga imposed the sentence after describing Emmanuel's actions against people viewed as rebels or opponents of his father as "sadistic, cruel and atrocious."
"It is hard to conceive of any more serious offenses against the dignity and the lives of human beings," Altonaga said. "The international community condemns torture."
Emmanuel, a U.S. citizen also known as Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., was convicted in October in the first use of a 1994 law permitting prosecution in the United States for torture committed in foreign countries. Emmanuel, 31, showed no reaction to the sentence but told Altonaga that he would appeal.
The sentence marked the culmination of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation that began in 2002 with a single agent looking into illegal arms exports to war-torn western Africa. Emmanuel was initially arrested in Miami for a passport violation in 2006, then indicted on torture, firearms and conspiracy charges.
The investigation spanned seven countries, involved 200 interviews and included the delicate task of persuading frightened Liberian torture victims to travel to Miami to testify.