Accused war criminal arrested in Alberta

MICHAEL PLATT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:29 AM ET

CALGARY - An accused war criminal has been detained in Calgary and is accused of being involved in the massacre of more than 250 people in Guatemala.

Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa, 52, is wanted in the United States on immigration issues. The martial arts master was arrested Tuesday morning in Lethbridge, Alta., 200 km south of Calgary, at the home of his sister.

It is alleged Sosa participated in the attacks on Las Dos Erres in which 251 men, women and children were killed.

Witnesses at the Las Dos Erres massacre in 1982 allege Sosa was a high-ranking soldier who killed innocent civilians with a sledgehammer, before dropping a grenade into a well full of injured people.

The mass-murder is considered one of the worst moments in Guatemala's 26-year civil war.

Of the four men most recently accused, Sosa apparently held the highest rank, serving as second lieutenant in the elite Kaibiles unit of the Guatemalan special forces.

But a close friend does not believe Sosa, a former Calgarian who holds both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, was involved.

"He told me he was there, but he didn't do any of it -- he said he didn't take part," said John, a close friend and former student who asked to remain anonymous. "I don't believe what they're saying. He was a really nice guy, super personable, and so good with people."

Last May, another of the accused war criminals, Gilberto Jordan, was arrested at his home in Florida.

Jordan, who has a wife and works as a cook in Delray Beach, reportedly confessed to U.S. federal agents that he took part in the killings, including the death of a baby, which he threw down a well.

Court documents from Jordan's preliminary hearing pointed to damning testimony from another soldier in the commando unit, as well as forensic documents stating 150 bodies had been stuffed in the village well.

Jordan was first accused of war crimes by a Guatemalan judge in April 2000 -- another named by the court for arrest was Sosa, then living openly in Alberta as a martial arts instructor.

That court-ordered arrest is when John, Sosa's former Lethbridge student, first became aware of his friend's horrifying past.

He said Sosa didn't avoid questions about the allegations, saying he was a innocent witness to the nightmare.

It was almost forgotten, but then Sosa suddenly vanished from his California home a few months ago as word of the U.S. manhunt became public.

"Jorge disappeared months ago -- these allegations came up about ten years ago, then they went away, now they're back again, so that's when he disappeared," said John.

"He disappeared from the States and then he surfaced here just this week. And now this. I'm surprised."

Sosa faces extradition to the United States for naturalization violations, meaning he is accused of lying to gain citizenship in that country.

Sosa is charged under the United States criminal code for making a false statement relating to naturalization and unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization.

Jordan, who is facing similar charges, has been told he could serve a decade behind bars in the U.S.


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