|Suspected Guatemalan war criminal Jorge Sosa. FILE PHOTO
Suspected Guatemalan war criminal Jorge Sosa’s appeal of his extradition to the U.S. to face immigration charges has been tossed by Alberta’s top court.
In a written ruling released Wednesday, Justice Brian O’Ferrall found there was no hope for Sosa’s appeal and said the Alberta Court of Appeal would not hear the case.
“It is my view that Mr. Sosa’s appeal is hopeless,” O’Ferrall said, in declining Sosa leave to argue his appeal.
In his application for leave to appeal, Sosa claimed he was not present when a village of innocent people, including women and children, were massacred at Dos Erres in 1982.
But O’Ferrall said even if that evidence was before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Neil Wittmann, who ordered Sosa extradited to the U.S., it was irrelevant to the lower court’s ruling.
Wittmann said there was sufficient evidence to weigh that Sosa violated U.S. immigration laws for allegedly lying on his application for permanent residency and ultimately citizenship.
He is accused of providing false information by not disclosing he was a member of the Guatemalan military and for denying he had ever committed a crime for which he had not been arrested.
Sosa allegedly was a commanding officer of an elite Guatemalan army unit that massacred 222 villagers at Dos Erres on Dec. 7, 1982.
Some victims were raped before they were murdered, while others were tossed, alive, down a well.
O’Ferrall said because an extradition hearing is like a preliminary inquiry, where judges do not weigh the credibility of evidence, Wittmann was bound to order Sosa to trial in California despite his denials he was present.
“The extradition judge does not have to be convinced that the accused is guilty of the charges,” O’Ferrall said.
“He must simply be satisfied that there is some evidence upon which a court could convict.
“His role is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant placing the accused on trial.
“He is not determining the guilt or innocence of the accused.”
O’Ferrall said it will be for an American judge to weigh the validity of Sosa’s claim he wasn’t present at Dos Erres.