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Former Guatemalan lieutenant facing 15 years in prison, US citizenship revoked

Jorge Sosa, a former Guatemalan soldier, is shown being extradited to Los Angeles from Canada. He is a citizen of both countries, but could face prison time and have his U.S. citizenship revoked if found guilty.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

"I heard my mom screaming for help 'please, don't kill my kids. They don't know nothing. We don't know nothing,'" Ramiro Osorio told an American jury in the trial of a former Guatemalan soldier charged with lying about the massacre on his U.S. citizenship application.

The horrifying attack took place three decades ago in the Dos Erres village. Osorio was 5 years old and watched soldiers killing women and children, and tossing their bodies into a well.

His disturbing testimony came as Jorge Sosa, a former second lieutenant with the Kaibiles, the special forces unit of the Guatemalan army, faces 15 years in prison and having his U.S. citizenship revoked if he is convicted of omitting his involvement in the military during the 36-year-long civil war that killed 200,000 people. Applicants were also asked whether they had committed crimes for which they were not arrested, another question he is accused of not answering.

Although Sosa is not facing charges for war crimes, the case has brought horrific accounts of Guatemala's armed conflict to a Riverside courtroom, where the trial is taking place, and where he previously lived.

More than 160 people were slain in the village of Dos Erres in December 1982, when the Kaibiles were sent there to recover weapons stolen by Guatemalan guerrillas. No weapons were found but the patrol was ordered to kill everyone to cover up the rape of women by soldiers.

Authorities say Sosa failed to disclose his military service and role in the massacre on his application to become a U.S. citizen.

In recent years, Guatemala has begun trying the cases of former soldiers accused in the killings at Dos Erres. Guatemalan prosecutors say they hope to have Sosa extradited to face charges for the deaths.

Two former soldiers testified that they saw Sosa standing near the well in Dos Erres where the villagers were killed. When agonizing villagers screamed from within, Sosa fired at them and threw in a grenade, one of the soldiers said.