Saturday, September 3, 2011


The better question in the article below is" How did he obtain Canadian citizenship?". Is Ottawa so incompetent that it grants citizenship without thorough background checks? How did he enter Canada? When? How did he obtain permanent residency? Who dropped the ball in this case? So many few answers. This seems ridiculous, in light of the fact that Canadian citizenship applicants are sometimes questioned at length about their residency and denied citizenship if they are even a few days short of the required 1095 days of residency. So how does an accused war criminal get the benefit?

Canadian judge orders accused Guatemalan war criminal extradited to U.S. - Winnipeg Free Press

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canadian judge orders accused Guatemalan war criminal extradited to U.S.

By: Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Posted: 09/2/2011 1:32 PM Comments: 0 (including replies)g Last Modified: 09/2/2011 4:29 PM

CALGARY - A judge has ordered that an accused Guatemalan war criminal alleged to have killed villagers with a sledgehammer be extradited to the United States to face immigration charges.

Queen's Bench Justice Neil Wittmann ruled Friday that the burden of proof has been met to approve a request from the U.S. Justice Department to return Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa to stand trial.

Sosa was arrested earlier this year in Lethbridge, Alta., and is accused of lying to American immigration authorities when he applied for U.S. citizenship about whether he had committed a crime or been a member of a military organization.

The 53-year-old, who is a Canadian citizen as well, is also wanted by Guatemalan authorities for his alleged involvement in attacks on the village of Dos Erres in which 222 men, women and children were massacred in 1982.

Wittmann said he felt the Crown had provided evidence that Sosa committed perjury when he said he hadn't been in the military.

"The evidence from the massacre at Dos Erres clearly establishes that Sosa was present and involved and actively participated in the killings with a sledgehammer, a firearm and a grenade," Wittmann said.

"It is hard for this court to comprehend these murderous acts of depraved cruelty."

Sosa showed no reaction when the ruling was read. He earlier smiled and waved to family members who were sitting in the front row.

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has the final say on whether the extradition order goes ahead.

Sosa has 30 days to appeal.

Lawyer Cynthia Dickins laid out in detail the legal case on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department at Sosa's extradition hearing in Calgary earlier this week.

Dickins said there was evidence that Sosa was a sub-lieutenant at the Kaibil School, which trained special commando units in Guatemala in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The hearing was told he was one of the commanders of a 60-man unit that surrounded Dos Erres in December 1982. The group believed the village was under rebel control and that villagers were responsible for an ambush on a military patrol and the theft of 20 rifles.

"They went from house to house separating the men from the women and children,'' said Dickins, who was quoting a statement from one of three confidential witnesses who were members of the commando unit.

The villagers were brought to a well, blindfolded and interrogated, the hearing was told. No weapons were found.

"The decision was made to kill all the villagers. I witnessed the man known as Sosa hit villagers on the head with a sledgehammer, including one as young as 13,'' read Dickins from the witness statement. "One man was alive in the well. (Sosa) fired his rifle into the well and then threw a grenade down as well.''

Infants and small children were killed first, Dickins said. Women and young girls were raped before being slain.

Sosa's lawyer, Alain Hepner, acknowledged the atrocities committed in Guatemala formed a backdrop for the hearing, but argued the key was to determine if Sosa committed perjury.

After the decision, he said he had prepared his client for worst.

"I spoke to him and the family before the hearing and braced them for the outcome," he said.

"It's like a preliminary inquiry. The Crown has to show that there's some evidence to reflect that an offence has been committed and there was some evidence and the judge so ruled."

Hepner suggested the questions asked by U.S. immigration officials were ambiguous and there is no proof Sosa committed any crimes.

The small courtroom was filled with onlookers including Wagner Avila, who is hoping to see Sosa eventually sent back to Guatemala.

"My family is back there and we're a small community," he said.

"We just need it for our people. I think it's a step forward just because of our heritage and what went on in that era. It will be a step forward for us."

The Canadian Centre for International Justice and Lawyers Without Borders Canada were hoping the judge would refuse the extradition request so Sosa could be tried under war crimes legislation in Canada. They feel that trying Sosa on immigration charges fails to send a message that people who commit such atrocities will be held accountable.

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