Human rights groups want Canada to prosecute Canadian alleged of war crimes in Guatemala

Two human rights groups call for the Canadian government to prosecute Canadian citizen alleged to have committed horrendous war crimes in Guatemala, including directing the murder of 200 people, rape and torture. 

Two civil society groups are calling for the Canadian government to prosecute a man believed to be living in Canada who they say was involved in the massacre of more than 200 people in Guatemala in 1982.

The Canadian government has been attempting to strip Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes of Canadian citizenship since 2017 on the grounds that he was an active participant in the massacre and lied about his role when he applied for citizenship.

In documents filed in the Federal Court of Canada, Sosa Orantes has said he was not even in the village of Las Dos Erres when the events in question took place.

At a news conference today, Lawyers Without Borders Canada and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice said Canada shouldn't become a retirement destination for alleged war criminals.

In 2014, Sosa Orantes was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the United States for lying about his role in the Guatemalan civil war in his U.S. citizenship application.

U.S. court records show he was released from prison in July 2019 but remained detained by immigration authorities until late 2020, and the groups say they were informed by an American non-governmental organization that he has since been deported to Canada.

The Canadian government has said in court filings it believes Sosa Orantes was a senior member of a military special forces unit and directed other soldiers as they tortured, raped and killed villagers.

It also alleges he threw a grenade and fired a gun into a well where victims, some still alive, had been thrown.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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