Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2013
A federal jury convicted a Moreno Valley man Tuesday of lying on his U.S. citizenship application about his military role in the 1982 massacre of a village during the Guatemalan civil war.
Jurors found Jorge Sosa, 55, guilty of making false statements and obtaining citizenship unlawfully, according to his attorney, Shashi Kewalramani.
Sosa, a martial arts instructor holding American and Canadian citizenship, faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and having his U.S. citizenship revoked when he is sentenced Dec. 19.
Prosecutors said Sosa was a commanding officer in the Guatemalan military’s special operations force known as the Kaibiles, and was involved in a 1982 massacre in the small village of Dos Eres.
Prosecutors said the commando unit slaughtered more than 160 people — including women, children and the elderly — during the attack.
Women were raped, they said, and villagers were gathered and thrown into a well. Prosecutors also said Sosa fired his rifle and threw a grenade into the well during the massacre.
Kewalramani argued that in previous documents Sosa filed as part of a failed attempt to gain political asylum, the defendant noted his time in the military and included a letter that contained a threat against his family because of his service.
Prosecutors argued that Sosa deliberately tried to hide his past.
“He tried to apply as a new and improved Jorge Sosa,” Brian Skaret, a Justice Department attorney, told the jury. “He wanted to appear as a different man. He wanted to run from his past.”