Ex-Guatemalan army officer tied to massacre sentenced to US prison

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A former Guatemalan army commander convicted of covering up his role in a massacre during that country’s bloody civil war in order to gain US citizenship was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors say Jorge Sosa lied to immigration officials about his involvement in the 1982 mass killings of nearly all of the men, women and children in the northern Guatemalan farming village of Dos Erres, considered one of the worst atrocities in that country’s 36-year civil war.

Because US prosecutors have no jurisdiction in Guatemala, they could not charge Sosa, also known as Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, in connection with the massacre.

Sosa’s US citizenship was revoked at the sentencing and he was expected to face extradition to Guatemala following his release, where he will face trial for war crimes.

“Jorge Sosa helped orchestrate the ruthless massacre of innocent villagers, including dozens of young children, and then lied about his past to obtain refuge in the United States,” acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said in a statement following the sentencing.

“This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to deny safe haven to human rights violators and to ensure that these criminals are held accountable,” Raman said.

Prosecutors say Sosa was a member of a so-called Special Patrol of Kaibiles dispatched to Dos Erres in December 1982 to find members of a guerrilla group that had ambushed a military convoy, killing soldiers and taking their weapons.

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