Calgary Herald

Son says U.S. bid to extradite just a ruse

- DARYL SLADE

So far, Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa is only wanted by the state of California for giving false informatio­n to authoritie­s — not for alleged 30-yearold war crimes in Guatemala — says his Calgary lawyer.

But Alain Hepner wonders if the American state’s request isn’t merely a ruse to ultimately get Sosa, 52, from Calgary to Guatemala. Sosa also has Canadian and U.S. citizenshi­p.

“Right now, the only informatio­n I’ve got is a request by the state of California,” Hepner said outside court on Thursday after having Sosa’s bail hearing adjourned until Feb. 23.

“I have to see if that’s just a smokescree­n to get him back to Guatemala to face the criminal justice system there. I don’t know that yet.”

The situation has left Sosa’s family confused and angry. Authoritie­s searched Sosa’s California home last year, but took no other action, according to his son.

“I agree with this being a smokescree­n. It made no sense that they showed up at his house but never arrested him,’ said son, Jorge Sosa.

While nothing official has been filed regarding the allegation­s that Sosa played a role in the deaths of 251 people in 1982, a group called Lawyers Without Borders is urging Canadian authoritie­s to consider filing an indictment under the Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. Sosa is accused of being one of 17 members of a special tactical unit of the Guatemalan military that massacred hundreds of men, women and children in the community of Dos Erres, Guatemala.

“The massacre of the community of Dos Erres is one of the more than 650 massacres that occurred in Guatemala during that period and, as is all too common, those responsibl­e for these grave crimes have yet to be brought to justice,” said Pascal Paradis, executive director of Lawyers Without Borders Canada said in a release.

“In assessing Mr. Sosa’s situation and weighing its legal and diplomatic obligation­s, Canada has to make sure that its decision ultimately allows Mr. Sosa to be brought to court for the crimes against humanity he allegedly committed,” Paradis added.

Sosa was arrested in Lethbridge on Jan. 18 while visiting family there.

The U.S. must provide Canada’s courts with evidence within 60 days of his arrest to make the case for his extraditio­n. WITH FILES FROM SHERRI ZICKEFOOSE.

DSLADE@CALGARYHER­ALD.COM

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