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Guatemala massacre suspect faces charges in Calif

January 24, 2011

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RIVERSIDE, Calif.—A Southern California martial arts instructor suspected of being involved in a 1982 massacre during a civil war in Guatemala was arrested in Canada and is awaiting extradition to the U.S., it was reported Monday.

Suspect Jorge Sosa was arrested last week while visiting his parents in Alberta, Canada, the Riverside Press-Enterprise said.

Sosa, 52, was indicted in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana in September after authorities said he lied about his role in the civil war when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 2008.

Sosa was granted citizenship, but it was revoked after the grand jury indictment. He lives in Moreno Valley.

In Guatemala, Sosa was a member of a special military unit called the "Kaibiles" and was the commanding officer of a unit assigned to find and arrest guerrillas who had stolen military weapons, according to court documents.

On Dec. 7, 1982, he and several dozen soldiers stormed the village of Dos Erres, near Las Cruces, and systematically killed the men, women and children, the government claims in the indictment. The unit is accused of slaughtering villagers with sledgehammers and throwing people into a well.

The court documents did not list an attorney for Sosa.

A man who answered the door at Sosa's address in Moreno Valley declined to comment to the Press-Enterprise.

The civil war in Guatemala claimed at least 200,000 lives before it ended in 1996.

In 1982, the "Kaibiles" were tracking an armed insurgency by guerrillas opposed to the military government. The killings cited in the indictment were investigated by the Guatemalan government 12 years later, when a judge ordered the excavation of the site and 162 skeletons were recovered.

The killings qualified under the law as perverse brutality, Guatemalan authorities said, and a judge in that country ordered the arrest of the Kaibiles in 2000.

In September, another former Guatemalan soldier who came to the U.S. was sentenced in Florida to 10 years in U.S. prison for lying on citizenship forms about his military service and role in the incident.

That same month, a Guatemalan judge ordered three men to stand trial for the Dos Erres massacre and arrest warrants were issued in that country for 14 other suspects.

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Information from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com

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