Monday, July 10, 2017

Man accused of butchering villagers fights Canada's attempt to strip citizenship


Orantes in 2011
A man accused of slaughtering villagers in Guatemala using a grenade, gun and sledgehammer is fighting Canada's attempt to revoke his citizenship. Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes denies he concealed participation in a 1982 massacre by the Guatemalan military when he obtained Canadian citizenship a decade later.

He paints himself as an upstanding instructor at a military training school during the period in question, working with local communities in Guatemala to build good relations. Sosa Orantes, 59, is serving a 10-year sentence for immigration fraud in the United States, where he also held citizenship until it was revoked in 2014.
In the early 1980s, the Guatemalan military junta began a ruthless campaign against guerrilla groups that wiped out 440 villages, killing over 75,000 people. Canada says Sosa Orantes was a senior member of a military special forces group that led a mission to Las Dos Erres in December 1982. Military members killed at least 162 civilians, including 67 children. Women were raped and children were thrown into an 18-metre dry well.

"The members of the special forces group killed their victims by hitting them on the head with a sledgehammer, by hitting their heads on a tree, by shooting them, or by slitting their throats," the federal submission says.
Sosa Orantes is representing himself in the Federal Court case from a Phoenix, Arizona prison cell. "I was not in Las Dos Erres," he writes. Sosa Orantes says that in late 1982 and early 1983 he was busy travelling to several towns as part of a goodwill effort, handing out notebooks, pens, chalk, educational games and sports equipment for children.

Sosa Orantes married an American woman and attained U.S. citizenship in September 2008. In 2010, the U.S. discovered he had committed immigration fraud by concealing his past. He was arrested the following year in Canada. In ordering his extradition to the U.S. to face trial, the Alberta Court said the evidence establishes Sosa Orantes was one of the commanding officers who decided to murder the villagers and that he "actively participated in the killings with a sledgehammer, with a firearm and a grenade."