Bail hearing for man accused of war crimes delayed

CALGARY — A bail hearing in Calgary for a man accused of war crimes in Guatemala has been delayed until Friday.

CALGARY — A bail hearing in Calgary for a man accused of war crimes in Guatemala has been delayed until Friday.

Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa, 52, was scheduled to appear a the Calgary Court Centre but the judge was informed a problem at the Calgary Remand Centre prevented his appearance.

“There was a lockdown at the remand centre which prevented Sosa from getting here on time and things starting,” his lawyer, Alain Hepner told reporters.

“Crown counsel and I decided we needed more time. At the end of the day we needed more time than was even allotted in the morning sitting and so the matter has been postponed.”

Sosa, a master karate instructor, has both Canadian and American citizenship and is charged in the U.S. with lying to get his papers. He was arrested in Lethbridge last month while visiting family in Alberta.

An Guatemalan arrest warrant was issued years ago for Sosa. The warrant alleges he participated in attacks in 1982 on the village of Las Dos Erres, where 251 men, women and children were brutally massacred. The attack came during the Guatemalan civil war and under the de facto presidency of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt.

An indictment by the United States District Court for the Central District of California alleges that Sosa was the commanding officer of a patrol sent to the village.

“The special patrol proceeded to systematically kill the men, women and children at Dos Erres by, among other methods, hitting them in the head with a sledgehammer and throwing them into a well,” reads the indictment obtained by The Canadian Press.

“Members of the special patrol also forcibly raped many of the women and girls before killing them,” says the document. “Defendant Jorge Sosa participated in the crimes committed at Dos Erres including, but not limited to, murder.”

Several of his relatives were present in the courtroom Wednesday. They had no comment to reporters.

“Stay away,” warned one man when asked for an interview.

When the allegations surfaced last month, Sosa’s nephew Manuel said the family was “shocked” but wanted people to know that his uncle is “a good person.”

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