updated 12/8/2006 5:21:48 AM ET 2006-12-08T10:21:48

The son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor pleaded not guilty Thursday to torture charges stemming from his years as chief of a violent paramilitary unit in his father’s government.

A few hours before that, he had been sentenced to 11 months in prison for passport fraud.

Charles McArthur Emmanuel’s court-appointed lawyer, Miguel Caridad, entered the plea during a brief hearing, a day after Emmanuel was indicted on U.S. charges of torture and conspiracy involving acts believed committed in Liberia in 2002. Emmanuel did not speak.

Emmanuel faces nearly 50 years in prison if convicted of abducting a man in 2002 in Monrovia, Liberia. He and others are charged with torturing the man with methods including a hot iron and electric shocks.

International human rights organizations and many Liberians say Emmanuel led a rampaging force responsible for widespread murder, torture, kidnapping, recruitment of child soldiers and looting.

Emmanuel, 29, who is also known as Charles “Chuckie” Taylor and Roy Belfast Jr., has been in U.S. custody since March 30, when he was arrested at Miami International Airport after arriving from Trinidad.

He pleaded guilty in September to giving a false name for his father on a U.S. passport application. He and Taylor are on United Nations travel ban lists.

Emmanuel, born in Boston to his father’s former girlfriend, is the first person charged under a 1994 law making it a crime for a U.S. citizen to commit torture or war crimes abroad.

His father faces trial next spring in The Hague, Netherlands, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing the murder, rape and mutilation of thousands of people during Sierra Leone’s bloody 10-year civil war. Taylor was apprehended in March in Africa and has pleaded not guilty.

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