Spanish Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Guatemalan Lieutenant Responsible for Dos Erres Massacre

Madrid, Spain — April 4, 2011.  Judge Santiago Pedraz at the Spanish National Court has issued an arrest warrant and an extradition request for Jorge Sosa Orantes for his participation in the Dos Erres massacre of 1982, where more than 200 people, including women, children, and the elderly, were brutally slaughtered.  CJA, lead counsel in the Genocide case since 2006, requested the warrant on behalf of the victims.  Sosa Orantes, a U.S. and Canadian citizen, has been charged with genocide, torture and extrajudicial killing.  After his extradition he could face trial and be sentenced to 30 years in Spanish prison.

Sosa Orantes, also known as Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, was a member of an elite military unit known as Kaibiles that was responsible for this and many other massacres.  Following orders of the Guatemalan Military High Command, Sosa Orantes and troops under his command surrounded Dos Erres, preventing anyone from escaping, and searched every home for weapons. They separated the men from the women and children and then in the course of three days, systematically killed the villagers.  Among other things, they killed all the babies, hitting them in the head with a sledgehammer, and threw them into a well.  Members of the special patrol also forcibly raped many of the women and girls for days at Dos Erres before killing them.

» Learn more about the Dos Erres massacre.

Pamela Merchant, Executive Director of CJA, stated, “The victims in the Guatemala Genocide case have been working tirelessly for years to find and make sure that Sosa Orantes and many like him are prosecuted for the brutal crimes they committed. Charging Sosa Orantes with genocide and securing his prosecution for the Dos Erres massacre is the beginning of the justice the victims want and deserve.”

After the war in Guatemala ended, Sosa Orantes fled to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 2008.  Sosa also holds Canadian and Guatemalan citizenship. Sosa has been living in the United States since the mid-eighties and recently moved to Lethbridge, Canada to live with his father and brother.  On September 2, 2010, a Federal Judge from the Central District of California issued a warrant for the arrest of Sosa Orantes, charging him with making false statements on his U.S. citizenship application.  Sosa Orantes was arrested on January 18, 2011 in Canada pursuant to this warrant and is currently being held in detention in Canada.

The Spanish criminal charges against Sosa Orantes were filed in connection with the larger Guatemala Genocide Case which was initiated by Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum and others.  The case charges former head of state General Efraín Ríos Montt and other senior Guatemalan officials with terrorism, genocide, and systematic torture.   CJA is lead counsel in the case and has introduced voluminous evidence implicating members of the Guatemala military in the genocide.

» Read more about the Guatemala Genocide Case.