tampabay.com

Defense wants victim's name or case dismissed

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published February 6, 2007


MIAMI - Torture charges against the son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor should be dismissed because U.S. prosecutors refuse to disclose the identity of the alleged victim in the case, a defense lawyer said Monday.

"The very core of this crime is that it happened to a human being, and we need to know who that person is," Miguel Caridad, attorney for Charles McArthur Emmanuel, said at a hearing. "We can't prepare for trial without the name of this victim."

Emmanuel, 29, also known as Chuckie Taylor, is a Boston-born U.S. citizen accused of torturing a man in Liberia in 2002 while head of a paramilitary Anti-Terrorist Unit in his father's government. Emmanuel is the first person ever charged under a U.S. law making it a crime for a citizen to commit torture overseas.

Human rights groups and Liberian witnesses say the ATU was responsible during Taylor's presidency for widespread violence and crimes, including murder, kidnapping, looting and recruitment of child soldiers.

The U.S. indictment, however, focuses on one case in which Emmanuel and other ATU members allegedly abducted a man, burned him with a hot iron, forced him at gunpoint to hold scalding water, applied electric shocks to his genitals and rubbed salt in his wounds.

Prosecutor Karen Rochlin said the indictment against Emmanuel adequately lays out the charges against him - including precise dates, times, locations and actions - and that the name of the victim must be withheld for his own protection.

"There is no (previous) case that says it is necessary to name the victim when charging a crime of violence," Rochlin said. "This case presents very real concerns to the United States about the safety and welfare of this particular witness."