Alberta Court of Appeal Declines to Appoint Counsel in Extradition of Jorge Sosa

Decision considered: United States of America v Sosa, 2012 ABCA 56

Emma McAuliffe wrote a blog expressing reasons why Jorge Sosa should face war crimes charges in Canada before being extradited to the United States (see: Why Canada should Address Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa’s Alleged War Crimes before Extraditing Him to the U.S. ) Nevertheless, Chief Justice Wittmann granted an extradition order on September 2, 2011. Sosa filed a Notice of Appeal on October 19, 2011, and a second Notice of Appeal on January 24, 2012. Since the appeal period allowed for under the Extradition Act, SC 1999, C 18 (s 50) would have expired on October 2, 2011, Sosa asked for an extension of time to proceed with the appeal. Alberta caselaw indicates that Sosa must demonstrate that he has a reasonable chance of success on the appeal before the extension will be granted (see: R v Truong, 2007 ABCA 127).

Sosa also asked for the Court of Appeal to appoint counsel to argue his case (under s. 684 of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985 c C-46). The Court of Appeal declined to appoint counsel, especially since Sosa would have the full opportunity to defend the charges against him once he was before the courts in the United States. The Court of Appeal also noted that Legal Aid Alberta had denied funding to Sosa based on their opinion that there was insufficient merit to provide coverage.

While the Court of Appeal (per Justices Clifton O’Brien, Peter Martin and Brian O’Ferrall) was not convinced that there is an arguable appeal in this case, they held that Sosa is entitled to apply for leave to extend the time to appeal and for leave to appeal if he sees fit.

Currently, there is no indication whether Sosa will actually proceed with the appeal.


About Linda McKay-Panos

Linda McKay-Panos is the Executive Director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. She taught Language Arts and Social Studies with the Calgary Board of Education for 7 years before returning to university to obtain a Law Degree. She practiced law for a time, before joining the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre in 1992 as a Research Associate. Linda is a sessional instructor in the Faculties of Communication and Culture and Law at the University of Calgary. Linda received her Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws degrees from the University of Calgary. Linda is the President of the Alberta Association for Multicultural Education and the Past President of the Public Legal Education Network of Alberta. Linda is the author of several publications dealing with civil liberties, access to information, human rights, discrimination, equality and related topics. Linda received the 2001 Suzanne Mah Award and an Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 for her work in human rights in Alberta.
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