By Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald November 29, 2011
A man accused of participating in a massacre of Guatemalan villagers is appealing his order to be extradited to the U.S. to face charges.
Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa, who was arrested while visiting family in Lethbridge earlier this year, is being sought by Guatemalan authorities who accuse him of war crimes.
Sosa was ordered extradited to the U.S., where he faces perjury charges.
But Sosa, who fired his lawyer, has filed his own appeal notice, claiming he was “not well represented” and that he has evidence that might help his case.
“I believe there is a way to defend myself against the charge presented by the attoney general of Canada on behalf of the United States of America. I strongly believe that there are other matters I can present in the appeal court for my fence,” Sosa wrote.
The federal minister of citizenship and immigration will have to sign an order before Sosa can be surrendered to American authorities.
Lawyers Without Borders Canada and the Canadian Centre for International Justice are calling on Canada’s Justice Department to prosecute Sosa in Canada for crimes against humanity or to consider a Guatemalan extradition request for similarly serious charges.
One of the few survivors of the Guatemalan attack, Ramiro Osorio Cristales, who is a Canadian citizen, is calling on the federal government to hold Sosa accountable for the crimes. He is touring Canada speaking out about the events of that day.
Sosa was one of several commanding officers of an elite commando force accused of massacring the villagers of Dos Erres. A 60-person unit of fighters killed almost 200 people in what is considered one of the bloodiest events of the 36-year Guatemalan civil war.
In December 1982, the squad was sent to recover about 20 rifles believed to have been stolen from the military.
Sosa was in his early 20s at the time of the killings.
“The evidence of the massacre at Dos Erres clearly establishes that Sosa was present and involved; that he actively participated in the killings with a sledgehammer, with a firearm and a grenade,” read Chief Justice Neil Wittmann in his September ruling.
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