Liberian warlord's son gets 97 years in US prison
(Adds prosecution comment)
MIAMI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced on Friday to 97 years in prison for mutilations and executions carried out in Liberia, in the first U.S. prosecution for torture committed abroad.
Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., 31, was convicted in October on eight torture and conspiracy charges for killings, beatings and atrocities committed while he headed a paramilitary force in Liberia. The charges said he and his colleagues burned their victims with hot irons, molten wax and boiling water and applied electric shocks to their genitals.
Prosecutors wanted a sentence of 147 years, calling Taylor's actions a "flagrant and pernicious abuse of power."
After the sentencing, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich said in a statement: "The lengthy prison term handed down today justly reflects the horror and torture that Taylor Jr. visited upon his victims. This case was made in no small part by the courage of individual victims who had the mettle to come forward and speak the truth about what had been done to them."
Five victims testified during the five-week trial against Taylor, whose father, once one of Africa's most feared warlords, is on trial before a U.N. tribunal in The Hague for war crimes during the civil war in Liberia's neighbor, Sierra Leone.
The younger Taylor, 31, is a U.S. citizen who was born in Boston as Charles Emmanuel. He moved in his teens to Liberia, where he was known as "Chuckie" and headed the "Demon Forces," a paramilitary unit that protected his father during the elder Taylor's presidency.
Prosecutors said that between 1999 and 2003, Taylor and his forces tortured captives who opposed his father's rule by burning them with cigarettes, dripping molten wax or plastic on them, confining them naked in pits covered with iron bars and shoveling stinging ants on them.
Taylor stopped a group of suspected rebels near a checkpoint, picked out three of them and "summarily shot them in front of others in the group," the charges said.
He also ordered his soldiers to behead one captive. They held the victim's head over a bucket and slit his throat from back to front after he begged for his life, the charges said.
Taylor was the first person charged under a 1994 extraterritorial torture statute, which allows prosecutors to charge a U.S. citizen or someone present in the United States with acts of torture or conspiracy to torture outside the country.
Taylor was arrested at Miami International Airport on a passport violation in March 2006, the day after his father surrendered for trial to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. (Reporting by Jane Sutton)
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