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Son of ex-Liberian leader sentenced to 97 years in prison

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Sentence reflects "horror and torture" visited upon victims, state official says
  • NEW: Human Rights organization sues Taylor on behalf of alleged torture victims
  • Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr. sentenced for charges including torture and conspiracy
  • Son of ex-Liberian president convicted October 30
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(CNN) -- The son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor Sr. was sentenced Friday to 97 years in prison for charges including torture and conspiracy, according to a federal court in Florida.

The U.S.-born son of Charles Taylor Sr., pictured, moved to Liberia when his father became president.

The U.S.-born son of Charles Taylor Sr., pictured, moved to Liberia when his father became president.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga sentenced Charles "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., 31, in a Friday morning session that lasted four hours, according to a court document.

Altonaga cited Taylor's "sadistic, cruel and atrocious past," saying it "constituted unacceptable, universally condemned torture," The Miami Herald reported.

"The lengthy prison term handed down today justly reflects the horror and torture that Taylor Jr. visited upon his victims," said Matthew Friedrich, acting assistant attorney general of the criminal division.

Taylor, also known as Charles McArthur Emmanuel, was convicted October 30 of torture, conspiracy to commit torture and firearm charges.

His case, tried in Miami, was the first brought under a 1994 U.S. law saying those accused of committing torturous acts overseas can be tried in a U.S. federal court, as long as the person is a U.S. national or is present in the United States, regardless of nationality.

Calls to Taylor's defense attorneys were not immediately returned.

Prosecutors had asked for Taylor to be sentenced to 147 years.

Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but he moved to Liberia when his father was named president.

Prosecutors said Taylor became the leader of the Anti-Terrorist Unit and the Liberian National Police while his father was president. The two groups are accused of abducting, torturing and killing people.

From 1999 to 2002, Taylor committed torture and allowed others to commit torture, prosecutors said.

Taylor and his associated burned victims with molten plastic, lighted cigarettes, candle wax and an iron. Some were severely beaten with firearms, cut and stabbed and shocked with an electric device, prosecutors said in an indictment that superseded the initial indictment from 2006.

In the initial indictment, Taylor was charged with one count of torture, one count of conspiracy to torture and one count of using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

The superseding September 2007 indictment -- which incorporated the initial charges -- included 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.

The defense had said the U.S. government had little or no evidence to back up its claims.

Also Friday, the World Organization for Human Rights USA filed a civil class action suit against Taylor on behalf of a group of people who are said to have been subjected to torture and other human rights abuses by Taylor or his subordinates, according to the organization.

The suit seeks declaratory relief and general, compensatory and punitive damages, the organization said in a written statement.

"This civil suit aims to address Defendant Taylor's wrongs on a much greater scale" than the criminal trial, the organization said.

Taylor's father, Charles Taylor Sr., is standing trial in The Hague, Netherlands, on war crimes charges.

CNN's John Couwels contributed to this report.

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