Accused Guatemalan war criminal facing extradition
An accused Guatemalan war criminal wanted in the United States is facing a two-day extradition hearing in Calgary beginning Monday.
Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa, who holds both Canadian and American citizenship, has been in custody since January and faces extradition back to the United States on immigration charges.
Sosa, 53, is also wanted by Guatemalan authorities for allegedly participating in attacks on a village in 1982 in which 251 men, women and children were massacred.
Sosa's lawyer Alain Hepner has indicated that most of the case against his client is largely based on documentary evidence so the hearing basically amounts to a legal argument.
He said it will be a challenge since the level of evidentiary proof in extradition hearings tends to be "extremely low".
An arrest warrant for murder was issued for Sosa in Guatemala years ago for allegedly participating in the 1982 attacks. They allegedly happened during the Guatemalan civil war and under the de facto presidency of General Efrain Rios Montt.
An indictment by the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleges that Sosa was the commanding officer of a special patrol sent to the village.
"The special patrol proceeded to systematically kill the men, women and children at Dos Erres, by among other methods, hitting them in the head with a sledgehammer and throwing them into a well," reads the indictment.
"Members of the special patrol also forcibly raped many of the women and girls before killing them. Defendant Jorge Sosa participated in the crimes committed at Dos Erres, including but not limited to murder."
Sosa is also accused of lying when he applied for U.S. citizenship, saying he had never committed any crime or offence and that he was not a member in a foreign military.
He is well-known in the United States as a martial arts instructor. He has taught self defence and there are several videos of him plying his craft available on the Internet.
Sosa was arrested by police in Lethbridge, Alta., in January where he was visiting family.