Canada told to prosecute, not extradite alleged war criminal

November 29, 2011

The Canadian Press on November 28, 2011 released the following:

“CALGARY — Ramiro Osorio Cristales says he was only five when he witnessed Guatemalan soldiers butcher almost every man, woman and child in the village of Dos Erres during the country’s bloody civil war.

“They took my father and my older brother to the school and my mother and younger brothers to the church,” Cristales recalled Monday through tears. “They were crying. Most of the people was praying.

“The next morning they started massacring the men and young kids from the school. When they finished with the men they started with the women from the church.”

Thirty years later and Cristales is now living in Canada.

On the surface he seems fine, but he says the emotional scars are still there. And his anger at the man accused of commanding the military unit that surrounded Dos Erres in December 1982.

Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa, 53, who holds both Canadian and American citizenship, remains in custody in Calgary as he appeals his extradition back to the United States on immigration charges.

He is also wanted by Guatemalan authorities for allegedly participating in attacks on the village. A total of 251 men, women and children were killed during the massacre. The military unit believed the village was under rebel control and that its inhabitants were responsible for an ambush on soldiers and the theft of 20 rifles. No weapons were found.

Sosa denies the allegations.

Many of the villagers were killed with sledgehammers. The women and girls were raped and their bodies were thrown down the village well.

“At that time, I didn’t know what rape means,” Cristales said. “The little kids were screaming for their moms to help them because they were raping them and then after the rape they killed them.”

Cristales is joining Lawyers Without Borders and the Canadian Centre for International Justice in demanding that the Canadian government prosecute Sosa for war crimes here, instead of returning him to the United States.

“He’s only being charged in the United States for lying on his citizenship application. There are no charges for the underlying crimes that he allegedly committed in the Dos Erres massacre,” explained Matt Eisenbrandt, the legal co-ordinator for the Centre for International Justice.

“In Canada he could stand trial for crimes against humanity, for war crimes, for the actual human-rights abuses.”

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 groups want the Canadian government to take a stand in the case, but so far have not received a response from the federal justice minister. Eisenbrandt said the Canadian government has an obligation to do something in this case.

“There are very strong laws in Canada that allow for the prosecution of crimes against humanity and war crimes even when they’re committed overseas,” he said.

“This is a case that has a very close connection to Canada. There is a Canadian citizen who is a survivor and Mr. Sosa is himself a Canadian citizen.”

A Calgary judge ruled in September that there was sufficient evidence to approve the extradition request.

During that extradition hearing 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.

Hepner said there was “ambiguity” in the questions asked by U.S. Immigration officials and there is no proof Sosa committed any crimes.

“There is no trial. He hasn’t been convicted,” said Hepner. “He is in essence denying the crimes they say he committed.”

But the judge had harsh words for Sosa.

“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,” Judge Neil Wittmann said.

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

“I want him to stay here and he can pay for whatever he did in Guatemala,” said Cristales.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Canada here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Accused in Guatemalan Massacre Extradited to U.S.

September 20, 2011

The former commander of an elite military unit accused of participating in the massacre of Guatemalan villagers was ordered Friday to be extradited to the U.S. to face perjury charges.

Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa, who was arrested while visiting family in Lethbridge, Alta., earlier this year, is sought by Guatemalan authorities who accuse him of war crimes.

The extradition hearing began Monday in a Calgary court.

Sosa will be granted 30 days in Canada as he is entitled to file an appeal of the ruling. The minister of citizenship and immigration will have to sign an order before Sosa can be surrendered to American authorities.

Sosa was one of several commanding officers of a squad of “Kaibiles,” an elite commando force accused of massacring the villagers of Dos Erres. A 60-person unit of fighters killed almost 200 people in 1982 in what is considered one of the bloodiest events of the 36-year Guatemalan civil war.

According to the U.S. extradition case, Guatemalan peasants were blindfolded, interrogated and killed by sledgehammer. Women and children were raped and villagers were thrown into a well.

Sosa was in his early 20s at the time of the killings.

According to the court, Sosa misled American authorities about his military service and participation in the crimes when he applied for citizenship there in 2008.

Sosa holds both American and Canadian citizenship, although defence lawyer Alain Hepner said he was unsure when the 53-yearold man applied for the latter.

Hepner said he was not surprised by the extradition ruling.

Sosa “knew it was coming,” Hepner said after court had adjourned.

Hepner did not say whether Sosa would be filing an appeal. If not, he will be returned to California.

This article was published by the Times Colonist on September 3, 2011.

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Accused Guatemalan War Criminal Fights Extradition to U.S.

August 30, 2011

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.

This article was published by the Los Angeles Times on August 29, 2011.

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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