WASHINGTON - A federal jury in Miami today convicted Roy Belfast Jr. of crimes related to the 2002 torture of a person in Liberia. Roy M. Belfast Jr., aka Chuckie Taylor, aka Charles Taylor, Jr., aka Charles Taylor II, aka Charles McArther Emmanuel, was convicted of five counts of torture, one count of conspiracy to torture, one count of using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and one count of conspiracy to use a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
Belfast, the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, was charged in a November 2007 superseding indictment with torture, conspiracy to commit torture, using a firearm during a crime of violence and conspiracy to use a firearm during a crime of violence.
Taylor was prosecuted under a statute that criminalizes torture and provides U.S. courts jurisdiction to hear cases involving acts of torture committed outside the United States if the offender is a U.S. national or is present in the United States, regardless of nationality.
"This historic conviction is the culmination of extensive efforts by many to bring Charles Taylor, Jr. to justice for his crimes," said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. "The United States has always been a place of refuge and freedom from oppression for millions. We must never deny safe haven to those with a genuine and legitimate fear of persecution. But we must also ensure that those who come here seeking freedom and the rule of law do not have to fear that their persecutor may become their neighbor."
"Today's conviction provides a measure of justice to those who were victimized by the reprehensible acts of Charles Taylor Jr. and his associates," Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said. "It sends a powerful message to human rights violators around the world that, when we can, we will hold them fully accountable for their crimes."
The December 2006 indictment charged Taylor, son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, with participating in the torture of an individual on or about July 24, 2002, in and around Monrovia, Liberia. Taylor, who was born in the United States, was alleged to have been serving in his father's government in Liberia at the time of the incident.
According to the indictment, on or about July 24, 2002, the victim was abducted from his home and transported to various locations, finally arriving at the residence of then-Liberian President Taylor. The defendant observed questioning of the victim at this location. The victim was then transported for continued interrogation to the residence of a co-conspirator, who was a member of the Liberian Special Security Service.
While at this residence, Taylor and others tortured the victim. The torture included repeatedly burning the victim's flesh with a hot iron, burning various parts of his body with scalding water, including forcing the victim to hold scalding water in his hands at gunpoint, repeatedly electrically shocking the victim's genitalia and other body parts, and rubbing salt into the victim's wounds.
On March 30, 2006, Belfast attempted to enter the United States with a passport obtained through false statements in his application and was arrested at that time. Belfast pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2006, to passport fraud and was sentenced on Dec. 7, 2007, to 11 months in prison for that conviction.
The charges of torture, conspiracy to commit torture and conspiracy to use a firearm during the commission of a violent crime carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years each. The charge of using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2009.
The investigation was initiated by the ICE Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Washington D.C. office and worked in conjunction with the FBI Washington Field Office with support from the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Rochlin and Caroline Heck Miller of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Chris Graveline of the Domestic Security Section of the Criminal Division. National Security Division Trial Attorney Brenda Sue Thornton and Criminal Division Attorneys John Cox and John-Alex Romano also provided assistance.