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MILENKO KRSTIC, MISS OREGON’S FATHER INVOLVED IN SREBRENICA GENOCIDE

March 15, 2009 7 comments
Update: March 16, 2009.

PHOTO OF EVIL: Srebrenica genocide suspect, Milenko Krstic, on left (in glasses), waits in his seat to cheer for his daughter Danijela, now Miss Oregon. Next to him is his wife Branka and their daughter Aleksandra. The photo was taken at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Jan. 24, 2009 during the 2009 Miss American Pageant.

MILENKO KRSTIC ASSISTED IN GENOCIDE
Milenko Krstic (52), the father of Miss Oregon, was an active member of a Bosnian Serb army’s Zvornik brigade. The unit participated in the mass killings of 8,000 to 10,000 unarmed Bosniaks (Muslims) and a forcible deportation at least 25,000 people during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. Krstic admittedly worked in the headquarters of the Bosnian Serb army, providing logistical support to the unit responsible for terrorizing Muslims in and around Srebrenica and committing genocide in July 1995.

DAUGHTER OF A BEAST

Milenko Krstic’s family enjoys a comfortable life in the United States, while bodies of Muslim victims, many of them children, rot in Srebrenica genocide mass graves. His daughter, Danijela Krstic (24), was crowned in June and serves as queen of the Oregon pageant. However, she failed to make the top 15 in the Miss America pageant and didn’t make the finals.

We found Daniela Krstic’s publicly listed E-mail address (missoregon2008@gmail.com) via The Oregonian article. We asked her, Does your father intend to apologize to the relatives of Srebrenica genocide victims for actively serving in the genocidal army?

She hasn’t responded to our question, yet. Like most Serbs, she must be proud of her father’s involvement in the extermination of Srebrenica Muslims. After all, it is no secret that majority of Serbs suffer from extreme Bosniakophobia – a prejudice and hatred against Bosniaks Muslims. This combined hatred and prejudice fuel their continued Srebrenica genocide denial.

KRSTIC LIED TWICE

In 1998 Krstic and his family emigrated to the United States. As part of a refugee application, he filled out an I-590 form, which requires applicants to disclose foreign military service. He denied having served in the military “during a sworn, personal interview administered in Belgrade.”

In 1999, he applied to become lawful permanent resident. As part of the application, Krstic filled out another form. This time, I-485 form, also required him to report any prior foreign military service. Krstic again refused to disclose his service in the genocidal army. As a result, he fraudulently obtained a green card.


HE EVEN ADMITTED LYING

According to The Oregonian, in 2005 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia reported to U.S. immigration authorities that Krstic had served in the Bosnian Serb Army (Army of Republika Srpska) that planned and carried out the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. The alert prompted federal U.S. agents to visit Krstic’s home near Beaverton and interview him. Krstic admitted to actively serving in the genocidal army, but he denied committing any war crimes.

However, whether he took part in the mass killings is irrelevant. The fact that he assisted the genocidal army – by serving as an active member and providing logistical support to the Bosnian Serb terrorists in and around Srebrenica, as well as trying to hide his background – speaks volumes about his character.

Krstic’s militia, also known as the Bosnian Serb Army, has been designated by the International Court of Justice in The Hague as having participated in war crimes, genocide and ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s.

Federal court files show that the U.S. government also learned Krstic’s specific unit, the Zvornik Infantry Brigade, was “involved in the massacre of a large number of unarmed Muslim prisoners in 1995, in areas in close proximity to (Krstic’s) duty station.” A prosecution document said that one mass killing was at a school “in close physical proximity to battalion headquarters where records show that defendant was working at the time.”

PARTNERS IN CRIME?

Krstic’s brother Ostoja also seems to share Srebrenica genocide blood on his hands. According to the Associated Press, “Lawyers involved say two similar federal cases are pending in Oregon, one involving Milenko’s brother, Ostoja, and are on hold pending the appeals in Milenko Krstic’s case.”

Milenko Krstic is currently charged for committing a visa fraud. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail and be deported to Bosnia, where he could face genocide charges.

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FURTHER RESEARCH
Srebrenica genocide suspects in the United States:

1. Nedjo Ikonic – Serb War Criminal Hiding in the United States
2. Suspect Avoids Genocide Charges 3 weeks after Genocide Accountability Act Enacted
3. Phoenix, Arizona – A Mecca for Serb Suspects of Srebrenica Massacre
4. The United States Deports Two Serbs Wanted for Srebrenica Massacre
5. Bosnian Serb Immigrants Failed to Disclose Their Past Service in Genocidal Military
6. Marko Boskic – Srebrenica Genocide Mass Murderer
7. Butcher of Srebrenica Wants His Own Admission Squashed
8. Srebrenica Genocide Gunman, Marko Boskic, Will Not Face Torture Charges
9. Elusive Justice: A Man Who Gunned Down 1,200 Srebrenica Bosniaks
10. Srebrenica Genocide Suspects Give Up Fight, Agree to be Deported to Bosnia
11. More Arrests of Srebrenica Genocide Suspects in the U.S.
12. List of Srebrenica Suspects Getting Away with Genocide
13. Bosnian Serb Deported from the U.S. After Lying on Immigration Paperwork
14. Deported Criminal Convicted for Crimes Against Humanity in Bosnia
15. Search our blog for more information. Look for Google Custom Search Box, it is located on the left-hand side.

NEDJO IKONIC SENTENCED TO 1 YEAR IN PRISON (UPDATE)

February 25, 2009 6 comments
  • Participated in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide (background)
  • Convicted for lying on U.S. immigration forms
  • Still faces deportation hearings that could send him to Bosnia
  • Bosnian prosecutors want Ikonic tried for Srebrenica genocide
Nedjo Ikonic – a wanted Serbian war criminal and self-admitted participant in the Srebrenica Genocide – was sentenced to one year in prison Tuesday for lying on U.S. immigration forms.

During the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, Bosnian Serb army – with the logistical support of Serbia – summarily executed at least 8,372 Bosniak men, children, and elderly, and forcibly deported 25,000 people in a U.N. assisted ethnic cleansing.

During the war, Ikonic commanded a police unit near Srebrenica during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. According to the warrant, he and the second man, Dejan Radojkovic of Las Vegas, carried out attacks on civilians. After the war, Ikonic went into hiding to avoid arrest. Like many Serb war criminals, he found a safe haven in the United States. He settled in Greenfield, the Milwaukee area, and thought nobody would question him about his past. But, he was wrong.

Bosnian prosecutors who want to try Ikonic for genocide in front of a panel of international judges under the jurisdiction of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The deportation procedure is under the jurisdiction of a federal agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Now that a court has established that Ikonic obtained his immigration status by lying, his deportation is more or less automatic and will probably be determined by an ICE administrative procedure (i.e. it will not require a judge’s order).

“Ikonic was arrested in 2006 and pleaded guilty in September to lying on an immigration form he filled out when trying to come to the United States in 2002… He was arrested in December 2006 as part of a nationwide sweep to find soldiers involved in the massacre at Srebrenica,” reported John Diedrich for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Sanders said that Ikonic lied to hide his role in the Srebrenica genocide – the worst case of genocide in Europe since World War II. “Mr. Ikonic commanded a company that was at the epicenter of all the atrocities there. He was virtually in the eye of the storm,” said prosecutor Sanders. “Ikonic started trying to get out of Bosnia in 2002 because he saw others involved in the massacre being arrested. First, he tried to go to Canada but was rejected. Then he filled out the U.S. forms, lying about his role.”

“Adelman said it seemed likely to him that Ikonic and his unit played some role in at least facilitating the massacre at Srebrenica. But he said it was not his job to determine if Ikonic had committed war crimes, and he wasn’t making that finding,” reported Diedrich. “Adelman said the fact that Ikonic said he was persecuted when he may have been the one persecuting people, made this a more serious immigration case and warranted the longer sentence.”

According to Newsday reporter Matthew McAllester, UN investigators believe men under the command of Nedjo Ikonic helped separate “over 1,000 Bosnian Muslim men from the women and children and transported these men to temporary detention sites in Bratunac on 12 and 13 July 1995.” Bosniak prisoners were tortured and killed at these sites in the town of Bratunac; most were kept there before being taken to other places to be executed. People under Ikonic’s command also articipated in the separation of men from women before at least 24 men and six women were the victims of “opportunistic killings” in the village of Potocari. Ikonic’s men “were present at the [Kravica] Warehouse when the executions started and [they also] participated in the killings.” More than 1,000 Bosniak men were shot dead in this episode on July 13. Additionally, men under his command summarily executed “a group of 10 to 15 Bosnian Muslim prisoners held in custody at Sandici meadow” on the evening of July 13.

Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB) reported on its web site that “Nedjo Ikonic is mentioned in several documents and testimonies issued by the Hague Tribunal. These documents include the indictment against Drago Nikolic, which alleges that Nedjo was commander of the Second Special Police Squad from Mount Jahorina, which it is believed participated in the separation of male civilians from women and children at Srebrenica, as well as in capturing and killing them. Witnesses in the trial of Nikolic et al, mentioned Ikonic as being one of the policemen who took part in the separation of the civilians. The special police unit under Ikonic’s command – which the U.S. Immigration Department claims that in July 1995 was legally subordinate to the Bosnian Serb army – also took part in a road block operation as part of the subsequent sweep of the terrain around Srebrenica in which large numbers of men were taken prisoner and then summarily executed. Ikonic has acknowledged being present there over a period of a week.”

NEDJO IKONIC – TRY HIM FOR GENOCIDE OR DEPORT HIM TO BOSNIA TO FACE GENOCIDE CHARGES!

January 19, 2009 6 comments
Nedjo Ikonic is a wanted war criminal, participant in the Srebrenica Genocide, and a fugitive from justice. Don’t let this dirtbag escape justice. Help us put Nedjo Ikonic where he belongs – behind bars on genocide charges!

ACT NOW: In January 2008, George W. Bush signed the U.S. Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, in part to help prosecute and convict Srebrenica Genocide fugitives hiding in the U.S. Now we have a case of Nedjo Ikonic, a Bosnian Serb fugitive who commanded a special police unit responsible for taking part in forcible deportations (ethnic cleansing) and mass murders of Bosniak civilians during the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman will likely set this Srebrenica Genocide fugitive free (on probation). The Judge is on record as saying “I am not a war crimes tribunal.” Contact the Judge today and tell him that his Court has legal responsibility, under the U.S. Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, to either prosecute Nedjo Ikonic for genocide in Srebrenica or order his deportation for prosecution by a panel of international judges under the jurisdiction of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

CONTACT JUDGE LYNN ADELMAN NOW!

E-mail: AdelmanPO@wied.uscourts.gov
Telephone: (414) 297-1285
Fax: (414) 297-1296
Chambers: Room 364
Courtroom: Room 390

TELL THE JUDGE Nedjo Ikonic should be tried for genocide – not released on probation! Under the U.S. Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, your court can and should prosecute Nedjo Ikonic for genocide, or order his deportation for prosecution by a panel of international judges under the jurisdiction of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

NEDJO IKONIC – WANTED FOR GENOCIDE

According to Associated Press, a Serbian immigrant Nedjo Ikonic, 42, of Milwaukee who already pleaded guilty to lying on an Immigration form could face extradition following federal allegations that he committed war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Ikonic is wanted by Bosnian prosecutors for taking part in the Srebrenica Genocide when he commanded a police unit near Srebrenica during the 1995 massacre. However, the Bosnian government has not formally sought Ikonic’s extradition. Ikonic admitted that he commanded a special police unit that was sent to guard a stretch of road near Srebrenica. He didn’t disclose that on immigration forms in 2002 when he applied for refugee status.

According to the warrant, Nedjo Ikonic and the second man, Dejan Radojkovic of Las Vegas, carried out attacks on civilians during the Srebrenica Genocide.

Ikonic was originally indicted on eight counts of lying on immigration forms. However, on September 16 2008, Ikonic arranged a plea agreement with the prosecutor. The original indictment read: “Ikonic had assisted in the murder of Muslim men during the Srebrenica massacre in July of 1995.” After plea bargain was signed, that line was absent from the two counts to which he pleaded guilty for. Although the two counts carry a maximum of 20 years in prison, under the plea agreement, Ikonic is more likely to get a probation.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman delayed the sentencing to give Ikonic’s attorney Nikola Kostich more time to counter federal prosecutors’ claims that his client committed war crimes. The Judge set the next hearing for Feb. 24, but added, “I am not a war crimes tribunal.”

According to Newsday reporter Matthew McAllester, UN investigators believe men under the command of Nedjo Ikonic helped separate “over 1,000 Bosnian Muslim men from the women and children and transported these men to temporary detention sites in Bratunac on 12 and 13 July 1995.” Bosniak prisoners were tortured and killed at these sites in the town of Bratunac; most were kept there before being taken to other places to be executed. People under Ikonic’s command also articipated in the separation of men from women before at least 24 men and six women were the victims of “opportunistic killings” in the village of Potocari. Ikonic’s men “were present at the [Kravica] Warehouse when the executions started and [they also] participated in the killings.” More than 1,000 Bosniak men were shot dead in this episode on July 13. Additionally, men under his command summarily executed “a group of 10 to 15 Bosnian Muslim prisoners held in custody at Sandici meadow” on the evening of July 13.

CONTACT JUDGE LYNN ADELMAN NOW!

E-mail: AdelmanPO@wied.uscourts.gov
Telephone: (414) 297-1285
Fax: (414) 297-1296
Chambers: Room 364
Courtroom: Room 390

TELL THE JUDGE Nedjo Ikonic should be tried for genocide – not released on probation! Under the U.S. Genocide Accountability Act of 2007, your court can and should prosecute Nedjo Ikonic for genocide, or order his deportation for prosecution by a panel of international judges under the jurisdiction of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

OF INTEREST: Read our debate with Chris Justice, an attorney who defended Srebrenica Genocide fugitive Milivoje Jankovic on immigration charges, at the following page in comments.

FURTHER RESEARCH:

1. Suspect Avoids Genocide Charges 3 weeks after Genocide Accountability Act Enacted
2. Phoenix, Arizona – A Mecca for Serb Suspects of Srebrenica Massacre
3. The United States Deports Two Serbs Wanted for Srebrenica Massacre
4. Bosnian Serb Immigrants Failed to Disclose Their Past Service in Genocidal Military
5. Marko Boskic – Srebrenica Genocide Mass Murderer
6. Butcher of Srebrenica Wants His Own Admission Squashed
7. Srebrenica Genocide Gunman, Marko Boskic, Will Not Face Torture Charges
8. Elusive Justice: A Man Who Gunned Down 1,200 Srebrenica Bosniaks
9. Srebrenica Genocide Suspects Give Up Fight, Agree to be Deported to Bosnia
10. More Arrests of Srebrenica Genocide Suspects in the U.S.
11. List of Srebrenica Suspects Getting Away with Genocide
12. Bosnian Serb Deported from the U.S. After Lying on Immigration Paperwork
13. Deported Criminal Convicted for Crimes Against Humanity in Bosnia
14. Search our blog for more information. Look for Google Custom Search Box, it is located on the left-hand side.

SREBRENICA MASSACRE SUSPECT TO BE TRIED IN BOSNIA

May 8, 2006 Comments off

Prosecution Wants Srebrenica Suspect Tried in Bosnia


International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Prosecutors have asked for the case against Milorad Trbic, a former Bosnian Serb soldier currently awaiting trial in The Hague on genocide charges relating to Srebrenica, to be transferred to the Bosnian court system.
Trbic had been expected to stand trial before the tribunal in August or September this year, along with seven others accused of involvement in the executions of thousands of Bosniak men and boys after Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian Serb army in July 1995.
But in her latest submission published on May 4, Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte argues that transferring his case to Sarajevo would ease the strain on the court’s resources, which have been “expanded to the maximum” to handle the planned joint trial. To date, the largest trials in The Hague have involved no more than six defendants.
Del Ponte also notes that sending Trbic to Bosnia would make room for higher-ranking officers to be added to the joint Srebrenica trial in The Hague. The indictment against Trbic and his co-accused includes a ninth suspect, Bosnian Serb general Zdravko Tolimir, who remains on the run. Prosecutors have also said former army chief Ratko Mladic could be added to the joint trial if and when he is taken into custody.
The tribunal’s rules require that decisions on whether to refer cases to other courts must take into account the gravity of the crime in question and the level of responsibility attributed to the accused.
While Del Ponte acknowledges that the crimes committed at Srebrenica were “of the greatest magnitude”, she argues that Trbic held a low rank at the time and had “minimal authority”.
Del Ponte is also asking that the Bosnian authorities to be given a chance to present their own views on the matter to the Hague court.
Prosecutors have previously said that Trbic has implicated several of his co-accused in the Srebrenica crimes – both in testimony he gave in separate proceedings in The Hague against two other officers, Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic, and in statements that he has provided to the prosecution.
The transfer of cases to judicial systems in the Balkans is part of an effort to wind down the work of the Hague tribunal by the end of 2010.

Related:

BUTCHER OF SREBRENICA WANTS HIS OWN ADMISSION KEPT SILENT

April 10, 2006 Comments off

MAN TIED TO SREBRENICA MASSACRE WANTS HIS OWN ADMISSION KEPT OUT OF COURT

BOSTON –A Bosnian immigrant charged with concealing his military past to get into the United States is asking a judge to bar prosecutors from using statements he made to investigators the day of his arrest, when he acknowledged that he helped kill 1,200 unarmed Bosniaks in a 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Marko Boskic, 41, was living in Peabody and working in construction when he was arrested on immigration charges in Massachusetts in August 2004.
In an interview with federal agents, Boskic admitted participating in a July 1995 massacre in a field outside the town of Srebrenica, when 1,200 Bosniaks were led out of buses, lined up and shot with automatic rifles.
Boskic told investigators he was allegedly held in a Serbian concentration camp for about six months in 1994 and released only on the condition that he join the 10th Sabotage Detachment, a military unit that carried out the mass killing of Bosniaks near Srebrenica.
He said he was forced on threat of death to participate in the 1994 massacre of Muslims.
“I had two choices: join or be dead,” he said, according to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent who interviewed Boskic after his arrest on immigration fraud charges.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock began hearing testimony on Boskic’s motion to suppress statements he made to federal agents who questioned him just before his arrest. The hearing was scheduled to continue April 18.
Boskic’s lawyer, Max Stern, argued in his motion that federal agents engaged in an elaborate deception to get Boskic to talk about his role in the massacre.
Boskic, a permanent resident of the United States, received a notice from immigration officials instructing him to pick up travel documents he had applied for to visit relatives overseas.
When he arrived to pick up the documents on Aug. 25, 2004, he was interviewed by an immigration official, the FBI and later by a prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague.
Boskic claims he was not told that a warrant out for his arrest on immigration fraud charges had been issued earlier that day. He said the Hague prosecutor repeatedly told him he was not the target of an investigation and that he was looking for Boskic’s cooperation against Serbian military officials.
Boskic agreed to cooperate and said his unit commander was the one who ordered him and other soldiers to kill the Muslims.
Thomas Carroll, a special agent with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, testified Monday that Boskic was given a form in both English and Croatian that explained his rights against incriminating himself before the questioning began. Carroll said he explained Boskic’s rights to him three times during his interview.
“He said, ‘I know what these are’ and signed them,” Carroll said.
But Boskic said he was not told of his rights at the beginning of the interview and was only told he did not have to cooperate after he had already provided incriminating information.
Under cross-examination by Boskic’s attorney, Carroll acknowledged that investigators who interviewed Boskic that day did not tell him that he was the target of their investigation or that they had already applied for and received a warrant for his arrest.
“You were concerned that if he knew there was an investigation he wouldn’t speak at all, isn’t that correct?” Stern asked.
“Correct,” Carroll replied.
Boskic’s case helped prompt legislation that gives the U.S. Justice Department expanded powers to track down and deport aliens who committed war crimes and human-rights violations in their homelands. The legislation was signed into law in December 2004.

Related:
1. Elusive Justice: Marko Boskic, a man who gunned down 1,200 Srebrenica Bosniaks
2. Bush administration has no interest in prosecuting Srebrenica massacre suspects
3. Phoenix: Mecca for Srebrenica massacre fugitives

ELUSIVE JUSTICE: MARKO BOSKIC, A MAN WHO GUNNED DOWN 1,200 SREBRENICA BOSNIAKS

April 1, 2006 1 comment


WAR CRIMINALS IN THE U.S.

ELUSIVE JUSTICE
10 years ago, Marko Boskic allegedly helped murder thousands in Bosnia. Now living in the U.S., his crimes may go unpunished
BY MATTHEW McALLESTER
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — There are only female voices to be heard in Emina Hidic’s apartment. Her mother gasps and sobs as she tells her decade-old story of a place called Srebrenica. Hidic’s 12-year-old daughter speaks quietly, sweetly. She has grown up in a family robbed of its men, in a home where sadness lingers like a permanent scent.

But on an evening in mid-December, news from America made Hidic suddenly smile.

One of the eight men who lined up her two brothers and about 1,200 other Muslim boys and men in a field in Bosnia during its civil war more than 10 years ago and then shot them dead was in custody in Massachusetts, a Newsday reporter told her.

She smelled justice at last. The United States had Marko Boskic, one of the killers of the Srebrenica massacre, the worst war crime committed in Europe since the end of World War II.

“They should condemn him for the crime,” said Hidic, 33, sitting in the living room of the apartment she shares with her mother and daughter in a suburb of this still war-scarred city. Framed photographs of her murdered brothers sat on shelves. Her husband also is missing, presumed to be among the more than 7,000 murdered during the entire Srebrenica massacre. “It is already known [Boskic] was one of the ones killing.”

In December, Boskic was facing only immigration charges, but it was still possible the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts could file the much more serious charge of torture – a federal crime that carries the death penalty for acts of torture overseas that have led to death. But on Jan. 10, the U.S. attorney’s office filed a one-sentence status report in U.S. District Court in Boston, explaining that “it is not the government’s intention to seek a superseding indictment in this matter.”

When told in January that the United States did not intend to charge Boskic with any crime other than lying to immigration authorities – if convicted he is likely to be sentenced to time served and would face deportation proceedings – Hidic was at first silent on the telephone from Sarajevo.

Then she spoke. “That is outrageous. I have no words to express what I feel,” she said. “So he will be let go after he had killed so many people? Is that for real? Terrifying.”

Complicated road to justice

Since then, Bosnian prosecutors and U.S. federal authorities have begun discussing how to try Boskic in Bosnia. This week, a Department of Homeland Security agent traveled to Sarajevo to help the new Bosnian State Court for War Crimes prepare an extradition request. But officials warn such requests are complicated and not guaranteed to succeed in U.S. courts. The agent also looked at case files that might relate to suspects living in the United States, a source said.
And while Boskic may ultimately face justice in Bosnia, the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute him thus far for torture means there is unlikely to be a precedent-setting case and therefore, some officials say, no deterrent message for other war criminals considering making America their home.

Drew Wade, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said his department “doesn’t comment on charging decisions in specific cases.”

Frustrating to many law enforcement officials and tragic to victims like Hidic, Boskic’s is a single example from hundreds of cases of suspected foreign war criminals, torturers and human rights abusers who have made the United States their home. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the successor to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, is litigating 779 such cases concerning suspects from more than 85 countries. Agents from ICE are investigating 264 cases.
There is some overlap so the total figure is about 1,000. They are soldiers, interrogators, commanders – many of them America’s former enemies – who have taken advantage of the U.S. welcome to refugees, especially from war-torn countries. With the victims, law enforcement officials say, come some of the killers.

War crimes investigators in the United States and other countries say the reality is that most of the thousands of mid- or low-level war criminals living overseas or in their home countries will escape justice due to a lack of political will and courts designed to prosecute people like Boskic.

When they find these people living in the United States, federal prosecutors and investigators essentially have two choices: Prosecute them for the potentially capital crime of torture, or charge them with lying during their immigration process and deport them as soon as they have served a relatively brief prison sentence.

Under U.S. law, deportees usually can choose to go to any country that will have them. Often, prosecutors can do little but hope the torturers and killers will face justice elsewhere.

The United States enacted a torture statute in 1994, but not a single case has been brought. Some investigators, prosecutors and human rights activists worry that while U.S. law does not give foreign torturers impunity, the fact that the torture statute has not been used has made the United States an attractive destination.

And some investigators and human rights advocates worry that the Justice Department, under Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez – author of a controversial White House memo that critics said effectively sanctioned the use of torture by American interrogators overseas – would never allow the statute’s use for fear it could be used on U.S. soldiers or intelligence agents.

The killing field of Branjevo

The first of the buses began arriving at Branjevo Military Farm in the village of Pilica just before 10 in the morning. It was July 16, 1995, and the morning was already baking hot.

Hungry, thirsty and terrified, the dozens of Muslim men in the bus wore civilian clothes. They were as young as 17 and as old as 70. This group was blindfolded and their hands were tied.
Those who came in the 15 to 20 buses that followed could see the green meadow next to the farm where the soldiers stood waiting for them in a line just over 50 yards away.

Among the soldiers, holding his automatic rifle and waiting in the early-morning heat, was Marko Boskic, according to testimony in a war crimes trial by another soldier.

Military police officers took the first 10 men from the bus, which was parked next to the four farm buildings, and led them to the nearby field. They lined them up in the grass, between a wooded area and a farm building, their backs to Boskic and his comrades. The two parallel lines, prisoners and executioners, were about 20 yards apart, according to two survivors and one of the executioners, all of whom have testified at war crimes trials at the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

The soldiers from the Bosnian Serb Army gunned down the 10 prisoners. Then 10 more. And then another 10.

The methodical, merciless killings continued until about 3 in the afternoon. By then, one end of the field was covered in up to 1,200 bodies. It was one of the key executions in the overall Srebrenica massacre, the worst single war crime in Europe since the demise of Nazi Germany.
Boskic’s participation is well chronicled.

Former comrade’s testimony implicates alleged killer

In 1996, Drazen Erdemovic, Boskic’s former comrade in the 10th Sabotage Detachment of the Bosnian Serb Army, testified in detail during his own trial at The Hague war crimes tribunal that he and Boskic were members of an eight-man squad who shot dead the unarmed Bosnian Muslim men who had been captured and bused to the farm north of Srebrenica.

Erdemovic also has testified in at least two other trials at The Hague about the killings at the Branjevo farm. In court on July 5, 1996, he was asked by prosecutor Mark Harmon about orders he had received from a senior officer concerning the Muslim prisoners arriving at the farm on buses.

“Did he say what you and the members of your unit were supposed to do regarding those Muslims from Srebrenica?” Harmon asked.

“Yes,” Erdemovic replied.

“What did he say?”

“That we have to execute those people.”

Soon after, Harmon asked: “Can you identify the other members of your unit who were present?”

“I can,” Erdemovic said, listing his comrades with their first names after their family names. The list included “Boskic, Marko.”

Erdemovic estimated later in his testimony that they had killed “somewhere about 1,000, 1,200, I do not know. I estimated the number according to the arrivals of the buses.”

On the night of his arrest, in 2004, Boskic told federal agents and an investigator from The Hague tribunal that, as an ethnic Croat, he had been held in a Serb concentration camp and that the only way to gain his freedom was to join the Serb army, according to an excerpt of a statement he gave to investigators that was released by his Boston attorney, Max Stern. Boskic told investigators he was forced by his commander, Milorad Pelemis, to serve on the execution squad, according to the section of the statement Stern released.

“I told Pelemis I do not want to do that,” Boskic said in the translated excerpt. ” He came up and put a pistol on [my] forehead and said that I have to, or I will be dead. Pelemis said to the commanders that in case someone refuses the duty task, they have the right to shoot him.”
Stern is trying to have the courts rule the statement as inadmissable evidence.

‘He was just like any other soldier’

In a telephone interview with Newsday from Belgrade, where he is now living, Pelemis, Boskic’s former commander in the 10th Sabotage Detachment, said Boskic was “a rather good soldier but was just like any other soldier. He wasn’t specialized in anything. He wasn’t a sniper or had any other special weapon except an ordinary Kalashnikov. He volunteered to go to combat, motivated by small monetary gains.”

Pelemis told Newsday he, personally, was not present during the Srebrenica massacre even though Erdemovic testified in detail about Pelemis’ presence, including an incident in which Pelemis ordered one of his soldiers to slit the throat of a Muslim man. According to Pelemis, Boskic was a violent man with an alcohol problem.

“I had problems with him outside of combat because he was inclined to drink,” Pelemis said.
“And he was often in Bjieljina taverns and sometimes Zvornik and there were problems there, fights with military and police, with the locals. And I sent him to custody two or three times – I believe three times. I was allowed to give them [his soldiers] up to 30 days in custody. Maybe all in all he spent a year and six months with me in the unit and up to three months in custody.”

In 1996, Boston Globe reporter Elizabeth Neuffer interviewed Boskic in a café in the Bosnian town of Bjieljina. When she asked why Boskic killed the men at Pilica, Boskic eventually replied: “Would you like to get whacked? I want you to forget this street and this restaurant. It doesn’t exist anymore for you. Don’t come looking for me anymore. I cannot guarantee the safety of your lives.”

Investigators credit Neuffer’s reporting for their initial awareness of Boskic, who by chance ended up living in Neuffer’s own city.

There is also video evidence of Boskic’s involvement with the 10th Sabotage Detachment. He and Pelemis both appear in a video of an awards ceremony celebrating the first anniversary of the unit, according to an affidavit written by senior special agent Gregory Nevano of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Nevano, who investigated Boskic, writes that the prosecutor’s office in The Hague provided the video, dated Oct. 14, 1995 – three months after the massacre.

Also present at the ceremony, Nevano writes, is Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic, whom The Hague tribunal has convicted of genocide for his involvement at Srebrenica. A cooperating witness who appears to be a soldier in Boskic’s unit but is not named in the affidavit identified himself, Boskic, Pelemis and Krstic, Nevano writes.

The American investigation into Boskic’s case began in 2003, and the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts privately saw it as a perfect way to begin using the torture statute, sources told Newsday. Many federal officials involved in pursuing foreign war criminals living in the United States shared a common belief: The case could have sent a crucial warning to other foreign war criminals. “That was one of the goals behind it,” a federal investigator said. “Part of the whole program is deterrence.”

A former Justice Department official with knowledge of the case told Newsday that the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts and investigators from Homeland Security wanted to file the unprecedented torture charges against Boskic, but that senior Justice officials told them the evidence against him was not sufficient to secure a conviction under the narrow terms of the torture law.

According to a Justice Department official familiar with the case, “The alleged charges in the Boskic case didn’t meet the elements of the statute at the time. The investigation continues as more evidence is collected.”

The Massachusetts office was very disappointed with the Justice decision, with officials in Boston believing they had enough evidence to secure a conviction, sources told Newsday. Crucial testimony in a trial, had it been approved, could have come from two survivors of the Branjevo farm massacre. The two men already have appeared as witnesses for the prosecution in Krstic’s trial in The Hague.

‘I could feel the hot blood pouring over me’

Not publicly identified, they described not just the killings but a scene of physical and mental torture. “When they opened fire, I threw myself on the ground,” testified a Muslim man known as Witness Q in the Krstic trial. “And one man fell on my head. I think that he was killed on the spot. And I could feel the hot blood pouring over me … I could hear one man crying for help. He was begging them to kill him. And they simply said, ‘Let him suffer. We’ll kill him later.'”

It is likely the two witnesses would testify against Boskic given their past cooperation and the close ties between the prosecutor’s office in The Hague and U.S. investigators, an official connected to the case said. Boskic’s apparent admission to investigators of his involvement in the massacre was considered another crucial piece of evidence, officials involved in the case said.

The department’s decision to seek no further charges – specifically torture – against Boskic means he will be tried for lying about what he did in Bosnia, but most likely not for the acts themselves, although his indictment on the immigration charges reads he “had, in fact, killed a person because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.”

Samantha Martin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston, told Newsday that the Jan. 10 status report does not preclude the possibility of further charges being brought against Boskic. The office declined to comment further on the case.

Difficult to prosecute

Prosecutors, investigators and legal experts agree it would be extremely hard to bring a precedent-setting torture case. First, there is no direct case law to work with. And given that prosecutors might have sought the death penalty in a case against Boskic, the standard of proof would have been very high, officials said.

In addition, the torture statute is written in a way that makes it hard to build a sufficiently strong case. The crime has to have been committed after the law’s passage in November 1994, putting the ’95 Srebrenica massacre within the time frame. But a prosecutor would have to prove not only that the defendant tortured someone, but that he or she had “specific intent” to cause physical or mental pain.

With possible torture charges now apparently unlikely, Boskic could be out of U.S. custody before long. He already has served almost 18 months in federal detention awaiting trial on the immigration charges. As an ethnic Croat, he may try to obtain Croatian citizenship, although U.S. officials consider it unlikely the Croatian government would welcome such a well-chronicled suspect. And even though he served in the Bosnian Serb Army, Serbia is unlikely to grant him citizenship because the 10th Sabotage Detachment has long been Serbia’s favorite scapegoat for the Srebrenica massacre because many of its soldiers were ethnic Croats and even Muslims.
A successful extradition request, however, would result in Boskic being sent back to Bosnia and into the custody of the state court.

What became of Boskic after the Srebrenica massacre is the story of an alleged killer who blended with the large numbers of victims of the wars in the former Yugoslavia who came to the United States as refugees. It is a common tactic for torturers and killers from numerous countries, said Claude Arnold, who heads the Human Rights Violators and Public Safety unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Homeland Security.
“Ironically, a lot of them even claim to be victims of those atrocities because they know the detail so well of those atrocities and they’re claiming to be refugees,” Arnold said.

“A lot of refugees were allowed into the U.S. before a lot of records became available that allowed a good vetting of these people,” one U.S. official said. “Most of these people were already in the refugee flow coming over before evidence started to be compiled by the … [war crimes tribunal]. Now the U.S. government is engaged in tracking these people down after they’ve been in the country for several years. Many of them have been here long enough to have already obtained U.S. citizenship.”

Having entered the United States on April 26, 2000, after allegedly lying in writing and in person to immigration officials about his military service and participation in the murder of Muslims, Boskic settled in the northern suburbs of Boston. When he was arrested on Aug. 25, 2004, he was working as a tile-setter and living in his condominium in Peabody, Mass. Based on a tip, federal investigators in Boston had begun looking into his past and realized they had a well-chronicled Srebrenica killer living in their backyard.

On his refugee application form, according to special agent Nevano, Boskic wrote that he fled Bosnia because of his “refusal to join the army to fight in the war – I didn’t want to fight in an ethnic war against people I lived with.”

When in Boston, Boskic liked to socialize with other Bosnians, including many Muslims who had suffered at the hands of the Serb army, some at Srebrenica. The revelations about his past left many Boston-area Bosnian Muslims stunned – that the man they had drunk beer with and barbecued with had taken part in the slaughter of their families.

The massacre of the Srebrenica Muslims represented a failure by the international community as countries including the United States failed to endorse the use of significant NATO air strikes, now almost universally seen by historians as the only way the killings could have been prevented.

Last year, on the 10th anniversary of the massacre, British foreign secretary Jack Straw acknowledged the failure and apologized. “For it is to the shame of the international community that this evil took place under our noses and we did nothing like enough,” he said. “I bitterly regret this and I am deeply sorry for it.”

Some convictions, but other suspects still at large

In the aftermath of the massacre, The Hague tribunal has convicted six Bosnian Serb soldiers and officers of crimes committed at Srebrenica. Eight more are in pre-trial status and another ended yesterday when former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic died in prison. Three suspects are at large, including former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his general, Ratko Mladic, alleged masterminds of the massacre.

But for the rest of the thousands who took part in the massacre, for the men who pulled the triggers, tortured the prisoners and filled the graves, there has been little to fear so far from any court – in The Hague, the United States or the former Yugoslavia. The Bosnian courts have not secured a single conviction in relation to the massacre.

Bosnia’s State Court, established in 2002 to handle war crimes trials and struggling with limited financial resources, recently indicted 11 Srebrenica suspects. Serbia’s war crimes court only now is trying its first suspects in a Srebrenica trial – partly a result of Serbia’s desire to improve relations with the European Union.

Among the families of the murdered, such minimal action provides little hope for justice. With thousands of boys and men still missing, the best hope for many is that their loved ones’ bodies will be found and given a proper burial.

Hidic’s brothers, Sead and Alija Durakovic, were soldiers in the predominantly Muslim Bosnian army and, as the Serbs pressed in on the 40,000 Muslims living in Srebrenica, the brothers fled in civilian clothes through the mountains around the safe area. No one in the family saw them alive again.

Last year, the phone rang in their tidy apartment that sits in a housing complex on the outskirts of town. It was an official from the Red Cross, which helps in the ongoing work to identify bodies of those found in mass graves around Srebrenica. Using a DNA sample from Hidic’s mother, investigators had identified two bodies found in a grave as being Sead’s and Alija’s. The man from the Red Cross told her they had been found near a place called Pilica.

On July 11 of last year, Hidic was among the families of more than 600 newly identified victims of the massacre to gather at the Srebrenica memorial and cemetery near the town.

Situated directly across the road from the car battery factory that was a United Nations military base and the place where Serb soldiers separated the men and boys from the women and children, the cemetery is a reminder of a mass murder whose killers have mostly escaped justice.

Row after row of simple green gravestones are marked with the names, hometowns and years of birth and death. The lives of the roughly 2,000 men and boys buried there all ended in 1995, the inscriptions show.

Bodies yet to be identified

There is plenty of room for the thousands of bodies yet to be found or identified. In nearby houses and towns, say war crimes investigators and Muslim survivors, live dozens – perhaps hundreds – of Serbs who took part in the massacre, living with little fear of arrest or prosecution. The unmissable, unavoidable, massive cemetery sits to jab at their consciences.

In the pouring rain on that July day last year, Hidic and her cousins laid to rest her two brothers alongside the other men and boys whose bodies have been identified.

Hidic’s husband, Sasa, is yet to be found.

“I had to go through that,” she said, referring to the ceremony and burial. Her mother did not go, unable to bear the pain. “There was no one else from the family to be there.”
Special correspondent Jovo Martinovic contributed to this story.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS NO INTEREST IN PROSECUTING SREBRENICA MASSACRE SUSPECTS

April 1, 2006 Comments off

Croat gunman won’t face torture charges

BOSTON — Marko Boskic, accused of being one of eight gunmen who massacred 1,200 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995, will not be charged under a special U.S. torture law.

The alleged Bosnian Serb Army war criminal — who was found living in Peabody, Mass. — will instead face charges that he lied on his immigration forms when he came to the United States as a refugee. If convicted, he would probably face a short sentence, followed by deportation, the Boston Globe reported.

Federal prosecutors and FBI agents had hoped to bring more serious charges against Boskic, which could have resulted in a life prison term or even a death sentence.

Some rights activists accused the Bush administration of not bringing charges against Boskic out of fear of setting a precedent that could hinder U.S. interrogators in the war on terrorism.

To win a conviction in a case such as Boskic’s, however, prosecutors would have to prove the defendant intentionally set out to make his victims suffer while executing them.

“Whatever he did, he was coerced into doing it,” said Max Stern, Boskic’s attorney. “They would have an impossible burden to prove the case.”