January 8, 2008

Editor’s note: Less than three weeks after the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007 became law, Srebrenica genocide suspect Milenko Stjepanovic is to be deported from the United States to Serbia without any genocide charges. Is justice only ink on paper?

According to the Deseret Morning News, a sentencing date has been set for a Bosnian Serb resident alien who has admitted to failing to mention his involvement with a Serb military group that committed Srebrenica genocide.

Milenko Stjepanovic is scheduled to be sentenced January 15 to one count of visa fraud in Salt Lake City. Federal immigration laws forbid the entry of someone who is considered an “oppressor” in a conflict.

One question comes to our minds: Why haven’t prosecutors charged Milenko Stjepanovic on counts of genocide or complicity in Srebrenica genocide? Aren’t they aware that less than three weeks ago, President Bush signed the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007 into law following its unanimous approval by Congress?

Prior to enactment of this law, a non-U.S. national accused of committing genocide abroad could only be tried for a lesser crimes—such a visa fraud—or be deported to their country of citizenship, where prosecution might be unlikely or impossible.

We call upon the prosecutors to try Milenko Stjepanovic on Srebrenica genocide charge(s), as mandated by the Genocide Accountability Act of 2007. It is a travesty of justice to see prosecutors let Srebrenica genocide suspects roam free.

According to court records, Stjepanovic admitted that on his application for a green card that he served in the Yugoslavian People’s Army from 1969 to 1970 but failed to disclose that he also served with the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS), which is a Bosnian Serb Army responsible for committing Srebrenica genocide.

A war-crimes inquiry found that members of the VRS participated in gross human-rights violations, genocide, and the massacre of over 8,000 Bosniak (Muslim) boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995.

The Srebrenica massacre has been classified as genocide by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as well as by the International Court of Justice.

Stjepanovic is one of five Bosnian immigrants living in the Salt Lake City area who were indicted in June 2006 for visa fraud. All of them had applied for refugee status but failed to disclose their service with the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS).

During a hearing last August, Stjepanovic pleaded guilty in a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors said they would recommend that he serve no prison time and instead be deported back to Serbia.

Research Corner:

1. List of Serb suspects hiding in the U.S. and getting away with Genocide
2. Sixteen charged with concealing Bosnian Serb military when entering U.S. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (December 15, 2006)
3. Former member of brutal Bosnian Serb military unit sentenced to jail for concealing his military past – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (November 20, 2006)
4. ICE probe leads to indictement of four former members of Bosnian Serb military for immigration fraud – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (June 8 2006)
5. Thirteen past members of Serbian military indicted for immigration fraud – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (September 14, 2005)
6. Four Serb suspects arrested in Chicago
7. Four Serbs on trial for Srebrenica genocide; Two of them deported from the U.S.
8. Butchers of Srebrenica hiding in the U.S.
9. The United States deports two Serbs wanted for Srebrenica massacre
10. Bosnian Serb immigrants failed to disclose their past service in Genocidal military
11. Marko Boskic – Srebrenica murderer
12. Butcher of Srebrenica wants his own admission kept silent
13. Srebrenica massacre gunmen will not face torture charges
14. Elusive Justice: a man who gunned down 1,200 Srebrenica Bosniaks
15. Phoenix, Arizona: Mecca for Serb suspects of Srebrenica genocide
16. Srebrenica genocide suspects give up fight

  1. Richard Johnstone
    January 9, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Is Genocide Accountability Act ‘retroactive’? Does it apply to cases of suspects who were arrested before the Act was signed into law?

  2. Owen
    January 9, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Richard, the “Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, Signed by President December 21, 2007 – Public Law No: 110-151: “Amends the federal criminal code [to] allow the prosecution of acts constituting genocide committed by an alleged offender who is: (1) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States; (2) a stateless person whose habitual residence is in the United States; or (3) brought into, or found in, the United States, even if the offense occurred outside the United States.”

    So the individual has committed genocide outside the US and has been lawfully admitted – there’s no need for arrest on the basis of any offence committed within the US such as visa violations.

  3. Owen
    January 9, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    The Utah grand jury indictments allege that Stjepanovic and co-defendants weren’t just members of VRS but were also members of the Zvornik Brigade, which was involved in the genocide at Srebrenica. However they did not allege war crimes. I guess The question is whether membership of an organisation involved in genocide is sufficient to trigger action under the Genocide Accountability Act.

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