On August 15, Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered an order that revoked the naturalized U.S. citizenship of a convicted war criminal.
The court held that defendant Edin Dzeko, a native of the former Yugoslavia, procured his U.S. citizenship illegally and by concealment of material facts and willful misrepresentation.
The court’s order was based, in part, on Dzeko’s admission that he misrepresented and concealed his military service on immigration forms and lied while under oath at his naturalization interview.
“War criminals are not entitled to safe haven in the United States, and we will not allow individuals who commit such atrocities to take advantage of our immigration system,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler.
“This case sends the message that the Department will remain resolute in our commitment to prosecute those who seek to gain, or have gained, U.S. citizenship unlawfully.”
“This case demonstrates that the United States will protect the integrity of its refugee programs,” said U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu.
“Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to target war criminals who attempt to abuse the process to gain entry into our country.”
Dzeko, 46, was part of an elite unit of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina that attacked the village of Trusina in April 1993, in what is known as the Trusina massacre.
The unit allegedly targeted Bosnian Croats who resided in the village because of their Christian religion and Croat ethnicity, killing 22 unarmed individuals including women and the elderly.
A Bosnian court previously found that Dzeko played a key role in the massacre, serving as part of a firing squad that executed six unarmed prisoners of war and civilians.
In June 2014, Dzeko was convicted in a Bosnian court of war crimes against prisoners of war and war crimes against civilians, and held responsible for eight killings, including the six described above.
Dzeko is still serving his 13-year prison sentence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Justice Department is also pursuing the denaturalization of Sammy Rasema Yetisen, aka Rasema Handanovic, one of Dzeko’s fellow soldiers and another perpetrator of the Trusina massacre.
(Learn More. A Bosnian Muslim woman was jailed for the wartime murders of Croat civilians and prisoners of war, in the country’s first conviction of a woman for crimes committed during the 1992-1995 conflict. Rasema Handanovic, 39, a single mother had pleaded guilty to the killings of six Bosnian Croats during an attack on a village in 1993. Courtesy of IBTimesTV and YouTube. Posted on Apr 30, 2012.)
“Those who commit such acts of inhumanity and abuse may not use lies and deceit to fraudulently call this country home,” said Brad Bench, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle.
“Today’s announcement marks the necessary carriage of justice, and I am proud of the professional investigators who upheld the law and order that defines our nation.”
This case was investigated by the following law enforcement agencies:
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations Human Rights Violator and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCC)
- The Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation,
- District Court Section (OIL-DCS) National Security and Affirmative Litigation Unit (NS/A Unit)
- with consultation and support from ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) Human Rights Law Section
- The Seattle Office of the Chief Counsel, and
- The Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section
The HRVWCC is comprised of ICE HSI’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Law Section, FBI’s International Human Rights Unit and HRSP.
Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
(ICE HSI operates the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit (HRVWCU) within the National Security Investigations Division (NSID). The HRVWCU unit conducts investigations focus on human rights violations in an effort to prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven to those individuals who engage in the commission of war crimes, genocide, torture and other forms of serious human rights abuses from conflicts around the globe. When foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers are identified within U.S. borders, the unit utilizes its powers and authorities to the fullest extent of the law to investigate, prosecute and, whenever possible, remove any such offenders from the United States. Courtesy of ice .gov and YouTube. Posted on Nov 16, 2016.)
The unit has four important missions:To prevent the admission of foreign war crimes suspects, persecutors and human rights abusers into the United States.
- To identify and prosecute individuals who have been involved and/or responsible for the commission of human rights abuses across the globe.
- To remove, whenever possible, those offenders who are located in the United States.
- To oversee the development of programs in response to the former President’s Presidential Study Directive-10, the prevention of mass atrocities.