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Accused Guatemalan war criminal fights extradition to U.S.

August 29, 2011 |  1:19 pm

Canadian officials on Monday began an extradition hearing to determine whether a Moreno Valley martial arts instructor and accused Guatemalan war criminal should be returned to the United States for alleged immigration offenses.

Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa is accused by U.S. prosecutors of concealing his foreign military service and lying under oath when he applied for U.S. citizenship in March 2008 and said he hadn't committed any crime.

U.S. authorities say Sosa was a commander in a Guatemalan special forces unit that  killed more than 150 civilians, including children, in the so-called Dos Erres massacre in 1982.  Members of the unit allegedly beat villagers to death with a sledgehammer.

Cynthia Dickins, a U.S. Justice Department lawyer, told the Canadian hearing that witnesses would testify that Sosa participated in the killings, the Calgary Herald reported.

U.S. officials have asked Canadian authorities to send Sosa back to the U.S. to face immigration charges. If convicted, Sosa could be sentenced to as much as 15 years in federal prison. He also could be stripped of his U.S. citizenship and deported.

After Canadian police took Sosa into custody in January, his daughter, Christina Sosa, accused the U.S. government of using her father as a political scapegoat for the atrocity. She said the man who allegedly ordered the killings -- Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, a former president known for his "scorched earth" campaign against the rebels -- still was serving in Guatemala's Congress

A court in Spain also has issued arrest warrants for Sosa.


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-- Phil Willon