Roy M. Belfast Jr., also known as Charles McArthur ‘Chucky’ Emmanuel, currently serving a 97-year prison sentence at the United States Penitentiary, Lee, Virginia in the United States of America, following his 2009 was conviction for torture, conspiracy to commit torture and firearm charges, emanating from the brutal era of his father, former Charles Ghankay Taylor, is opening up for the first time since his incarceration.

Speaking from his prison cell via phone to FrontPageAfrica Tuesday, Mr. Taylor accused the United States Justice Department of violating his civil rights while announcing that he has launched an online fundraiser in a bid to hire a team of lawyers to investigate what he termed as gross errors in the trial that led to his incarceration.

Mr. Taylor claims that the charges against him which led to his incarceration were flawed which is why he has launched a fundraiser in hopes of raising money to appeal his conviction. “I’m trying to raise between US$100K to $US150K. I want to try and hire a major law firm in DC to be able to lobby this case in DC that will gain the attention of Congress or the justice department because there are a lot of misrepresentation or misconduct that have been taken place since this litigation in 2017.”

Unfortunately, he averred, the way the way the criminal justice system is set up in the US, too many people are serving prison due to errors in the system. “It’s not just about me. I can point to four or five other persons in this institution right now that are legally convicted or legally detained and the criminal justice reform needed in this system is vast. My case stands out because it’s one of the first instant but this story plays itself out many times.”

Chuckie also stated that most of the witnesses who agreed to testify on his behalf were threatened. “A lot of people don’t know that the witnesses that we brought were intimidated and threatened – and it is also on the trial transcript record from my criminal case.”

The son of former President Taylor who says he has been studying law while incarcerated, said a lot of the witnesses acknowledged that they were threatened, according to court documents. “One way or another, they had called our families in Liberia, harassed and threatened them because they had come here and testified at my trial. No one had been physically hurt yet but some people had to leave their homes. They are in hiding. One witness told me a list of our witnesses showed up in the hands of the Liberia National Police. I contacted the government about this over the weekend, they had given me the name of the LNP officer they contacted.”

Chuckie then lamented: “So, If I was such a tyrant and this was such an airtight case, why would witnesses be intimidated. I go further to document that – we interviewed both men in Liberia, they give us relevant evidence of our client. We brought them here along with other witnesses shortly after our clients. None of the allegations in the Truth and Reconciliation report was substantiated. All of these allegations that were promoted by the western agencies and human rights organizations were never substantiated.”

Mr. Taylor explained that his name was never on the domestic prosecution list for those who committed the worst of crimes in Liberia.

Expressing regrets for some his missteps, Chuckie then drew a line of demarcation between he and his father. “The other thing I want to share with the rest of the world – and many would be shocked to know is that, my father never supported me, never sent one red dime here because of the differences that we had. Those differences are deep.”

Chuckie says he believes that his father, Charles failed he and others – those who truly believed in him. “I was young and I truly regretted ever supporting my father, clearly. You know, I just told a really good friend of the other day. I said, listen: Do you know the entire time no one ever helped me develop my full potential. It is only during the latter stage, in the last fifteen years that I understood my full potential and full capacity, as a man. Everyone saw it one way or the other in Liberia, tried to manipulate or use the potential that I had, including my father. So, people will be shock to know, why would a man, not support his son or provide legal funding to defend himself. This is the reality that I’ve lived with for a long time. But I don’t want to make this about Mr. Taylor but it is important for the wider Diaspora and those in Africa to know, this is the reason why I’m seeking donation to be able to litigate this case. I need a legal team and one of the main things now for people to understand is, I chose to come to America to forge my own path. Had I believed I had done anything wrong, I would never have come to America – that’s the reality.”

Chuckie was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in 2009 for crimes related to the torture of people in Liberia between April 1999 and July 2003.

He was convicted on October 30, 2008, by a federal jury after a six-week trial 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.

According to trial testimony, Chuckie, who was born in the United States and is the son of the former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, commanded a paramilitary organization known as the Anti-Terrorist Unit, which was directed to provide protection for the Liberian president and additional dignitaries of the Liberian government. Between 1999 and 2003, in his role as commander of that unit, Belfast and his associates committed numerous and varied forms of torture, including burning victims with molten plastic, lit cigarettes, scalding water, candle wax and an iron; severely beating victims with firearms; cutting and stabbing victims; and shocking victims with an electric device.

On March 30, 2006, Belfast attempted to enter the United States with a passport obtained through false statements submitted on his passport application, and was arrested. Belfast pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2006, to passport fraud and was sentenced on Dec. 7, 2007, to 11 months in prison on that charge.

Chuckie’s prosecution on the torture charges was the first ever 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.

The case was jointly investigated by ICE and the FBI. 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 Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section. National Security Division Trial Attorney Brenda Sue Thornton and Criminal Division Attorneys John Cox, John-Alex Romano, Michael Surgalla, and Pragna Soni also provided assistance.

This week, Chuckie’s mother, Yolanda Yassazoe Emmanuel launched a fundraiser on his behalf, in hopes of raising money to resurrect his case.  “I am the mother of who many call “Chucky Taylor”, whom I call “Charlie”. For years now, I have urged my son to bring his plight to the world and share the current injustice he has attempted to fight all by himself for over 15 years.  Being an introvert and experiencing years of injustice regarding our legal system, denied him of the perspective I hoped he would see for so long,” Madam Emmanuel writes on a

She continued: “Only recently, he re-considered my advice, and I am truly grateful and hopeful. Clearly, he has come to realize that no man is an island. I now have the ability and full cooperation from my son to be able to discuss and seek assistance on his behalf to aid on his road to freedom.   Previously, he urged me not to speak to the media or attend his trial. I reluctantly agreed to his wishes. Honestly, I wish he would have agreed sooner but nonetheless, here we are, with my son in prison, 15 years into an illegal sentence. My son is not a man void of mistakes. My son could never be coined as perfect or without fault as no-one can. He is however, against all odds in an environment, a stellar human being serving an illegal life sentence. Charlie was raised with deep West Indian values by myself and my former husband, Roy Belfast (whose name Charlie and I officially changed his name to as a child) Charlie has deep reverence and respect for his step dad who helped raise him since he was 9 yrs old.”

Madam Emmanuel said through the years, her son has patiently and resourcefully attempted to finds ways within the law to get the government to reveal what was done was illegal and hold themselves accountable for the injustice. “Taking destiny into his own hands, Charlie diligently learned the law, as no one would help him no matter how compelling his legal analysis has been. I’m so proud of the man he has evolved into while fighting redemption, spiritual peace and truly discovering self under the harshest circumstances.  Many do not know how much despair resides in the Penitentiaries of the United States and the menticide that takes place under the banner of law.  He has evolved, educating himself with a genuine desire to pursue deeper levels of learning, found courage morally and ethically, to stand for what he believes is right. I have always told him who gods favors when he seeks his way and light, no man curses. With that said, I ask for any and all donations to aid my son in getting lawyers to file a civil lawsuit due to the deprivation of his civil rights.  I will let my son make his personal plea to the world, which is a break from his silence.”

Chuckie says he has always maintained his innocence. “Despite the odds stacked against me, I chose to go to trial. This decision was not out of stubbornness, but rather the sincere belief that the truth would prevail. I’ve come to learn along with many others, can attest the truth most of the time holds no real relevance in the US Federal Judicial Court system.  In too many instances, court rules imposed by bias judges blunt the effects of truth or outright deprive truth completely.  Being misled by my US Public Defenders by negligence or by design, coupled with my ignorance at that time of the law, in addition to no support from former President Charles Taylor or family to obtain competent council, the inevitable occurred a guilty verdict on all eight counts. A sentence I have been vehemently been trying to over-turn as a self-litigating convicted person.”

After deeply committing himself to learning the law, while in prison, Chuckie says he has continued to pursue avenues to litigate my innocence before the court. “In 2016 I sought inquiry through the Justice Departments, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) section, for the evidence used to demonstrate I committed an offense against the United States by conspiring to commit torture. (With conspirators who never attested to any existence of any grand scheme) count one. Information on this indictment can be found in court records. The docket entry is 257, USA v ROY BELFAST JR and the criminal case number 06-20758-CMA., United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, for the Eleventh Circuit.”