Canada Tries to Strip Citizenship from Man Accused of Butchering Villagers

By Bronskill, Jim | The Canadian Press, April 16, 2017 | Go to article overview

Canada Tries to Strip Citizenship from Man Accused of Butchering Villagers


Bronskill, Jim, The Canadian Press


Accused war criminal could lose citizenship

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OTTAWA - Canada is moving to strip citizenship from a man accused of slaughtering villagers in Guatemala using a grenade, gun and sledgehammer.

Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes concealed his brutal role in a 1982 massacre by the Guatemalan military in obtaining Canadian citizenship a decade later, the federal government says in newly filed court documents.

Sosa Orantes, 59, is now serving a 10-year sentence for immigration fraud in the United States, where he also held citizenship until it was revoked in 2014.

Canada has opted to strip citizenship in only a handful of modern-day war crimes cases.

The bloody, decades-long conflict between Guatemalan government forces and guerrillas intensified in the early 1980s.

The military junta began a ruthless campaign of destruction that wiped out 440 villages, killing over 75,000 people and displacing more than 250,000, the Canadian government says in documents filed in Federal Court.

The army would typically circle a village, seal it off, gather the people and separate men and women before killing villagers.

"Destruction of property, torture, sexual violence towards women and minors was widespread and systematic during these operations," the court submission says.

Sosa Orantes was a senior member of a military special forces group that led a mission to the Guatemalan village of Las Dos Erres in December 1982 to interrogate inhabitants after some military rifles were allegedly stolen during a guerrilla ambush of troops.

The military members killed at least 162 civilians, including 67 children. Women were raped and children were thrown into an 18-metre dry well.

"The members of the special forces group killed their victims by hitting them on the head with a sledgehammer, by hitting their heads on a tree, by shooting them, or by slitting their throats," the federal submission says. …

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