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Guatemalan war criminal to be extradited to US

Canadian authorities have ordered a former member of the Guatemalan military who is accused of war crimes, to be sent to the US to face charges of perjury.

Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa has been accused of lying to immigration authorities over whether he had committed a crime or been a member of a military organization when he applied for US citizenship.

In April, Spanish courts issued an extradition request and arrest warrant for Sosa, seeking to try him for charges of genocide, torture and extrajudicial killings.

The American and Canadian citizen is alleged to have led the massacre of over 200 civilians whilst leading a patrol of the Kaibiles, the special operations and counter insurgency force of the Guatemalan military, in 1982.

The entire village of Dos Erres was slaughtered, many killed with sledgehammers and with women and children raped before being murdered.

Sosa, who is also wanted by the Guatemalan government for his role in the massacre, was reportedly seen by eyewitnesses to have shot villagers who were thrown into wells followed by grenades.

Lawyers Without Borders Canada and The Canadian Centre for International Justice have both called for the extradition request to be halted so that Sosa could be tried for war crimes in Canada under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Activists have pointed to the case of Desire Munyaneza, who was arrested and convicted in Canada for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Rwandan genocide, becoming the first person to do so.

Pascal Paradis, executive director of Lawyers Without Borders Canada said:

“The easy thing might be for the Canadian government to ship Sosa back to the United States. The right thing would be for Canada to pursue its own investigation and look favourably on the opportunity to send him to Spain. Full accountability demands no less.

Earlier this year, four former Guatemalan Kaibile soldiers were sentenced to over 6000 years in prison each for their part in the Dos Erres massacre. They were found guilty of murder and crimes against humanity, making them the first former soldiers to be convicted for human rights abuses in the country.

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