News / Americas

US Court Sentences Ex-Guatemalan Officer for Lying about 1982 Massacre

FILE - Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations escort Jorge Sosa, a former Guatemalan army commando, following his extradition from Canada, at Los Angeles International Airport in this handout photo, Sept. 22, 2012.
FILE - Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations escort Jorge Sosa, a former Guatemalan army commando, following his extradition from Canada, at Los Angeles International Airport in this handout photo, Sept. 22, 2012.
VOA News
An ex-Guatemalan army commander was sentenced Monday in a U.S. court to a 10-year prison term for covering up his role in a 1982 massacre during his country's bloody civil war, in order to gain U.S. citizenship.

Prosecutors say Jorge Sosa lied to U.S. immigration officials about his involvement in the mass killings of 250 men, women and children, in what is believed to be one of the worst atrocities in 36 years of war.

A U.S. jury last year found Sosa willfully omitted both his military affiliation and his role in the killings, when he applied for permanent U.S. residence in 1997 and for naturalized citizenship 10 years later.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2009 in connection with the false statements and subsequently fled to Canada. He was arrested there and later returned to the United States for trial.

At the October 2013 trial, U.S. prosecutors presented evidence that Sosa and other members of an elite army unit known as the Kaibiles entered the village of Dos Erres in December 1982 seeking stolen weapons. When none were found, the unit removed villagers from their homes and separated the men from the women and children.

A U.S. statement Monday said analysis showed some of the young girls had been raped, before the unit systematically began killing the villagers with sledgehammers and guns, and then throwing the bodies into a well.

Testimony from two Kaibiles who participated in the massacre showed that Sosa supervised the unit as its members filled the well with the mortally wounded villagers. The testimony also showed that Sosa at one point threw a hand grenade into the mass of bodies in the well.

Argentine forensic specialists exhumed the 12-meter-deep well in the mid-1990s, and one of the Argentineans testified in 2009 that his team found 162 skeletons. Of those, he testified that 67 appeared to be children under age 12.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocidei
X
Elizabeth Lee
August 31, 2015 8:23 PM
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Brazilian Head of UN Peacekeeping Force in Haiti Dies

Lieutenant General Jose Luiz Jaborandy Jr. died of a heart attack on board a plane from Miami to Brazil on Sunday, according to a UN statement
More

Dozens of Venezuelans Shot by Police Amid Crime Crackdown

Rights groups accuse security forces of carrying out summary executions, but some residents in neighborhoods overrun by gangs say government right to take more militarized approach
More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed
More

Canada, White House Dismiss Candidate's Suggestion for Border Wall

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says that northern wall on US-Canadian border is 'legitimate issue for us to look at'
More

Tropical Storm Erika Dissipates; 21 Dead

Storm flags over Cuba, could regain strength over Gulf of Mexico; death toll in Dominica, Haiti is 21
More

Video Cubans Embrace New Internet Connectivity Options

Government has approved use of prepaid cards for web access; some foresee construction of better infrastructure, with towers, fiber-optic cables
More