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Sosa Orantes Extradited to the United States for Immigration Fraud: LWBC Calls Upon Guatemala to Request his Transfer

On Friday September 21 2012, Jorge Vincio Orantes Sosa, an alleged Guatemalan war criminal, was extradited to the United States of America (U.S.) to face immigration fraud charges. Mr. Orantes Sosa had been incarcerated in Alberta, Canada, since January 2011. In an effort to hamper his extradition, Mr. Orantes Sosa lost his battle before the Albertan Court of Appeal on August 9, 2012. Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC) is disappointed that Canada failed to either extradite him to Guatemala where he would have faced charges of a much more serious nature, or alternatively grant him a trial pursuant to Canada’s War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Act enacted in 2010. For the time being, LWBC is of the view that he should be tried in Guatemala, and thus the latter country must file an extradition request to the competent U.S. authorities.

On August 2011 and March 2012, courts in Guatemala City convicted five men on grounds of murder and crimes against humanity for their participation in the Dos Erres massacre as part of a special army unit that methodically executed over 200 people in 1982. Only two young boys, one of whom is now a Canadian citizen, survived the massacre. The court sentenced three of them to 6060 years in prison and the fourth to 6066 years. The evidence accepted by the Guatemalan court shows that Mr. Sosa Orantes was a commander in the special unit and witnesses specifically identified him as one of the officers who supervised the operation. As a consequence of the unveiling of such evidence, he is now indicted in Guatemala.

Jere Miles, Los Angeles deputy special agent in charge with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, stated that Mr. Sosa Orantes could be granted up to 15 years of imprisonment for his immigration fraud charges. He also mentioned to Canadian press that justice would be served in regard to the human rights crime allegations in Central America if Guatemalan authorities pursued his extradition. LWBC therefore reiterates the importance for an alleged human rights crimes perpetrator to face justice for such acts in order to fight impunity which has prevailed in the country for decades. In the present case, LWBC calls upon Guatemalan authorities to duly seek his extradition from the US in an effort to bestow justice and reparation for the victims of the Dos Erres massacre.

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