A federal judge sentenced a Loganville, Georgia, to four years and nine months in prison for failing to disclose his role as a Bosnian Prison Camp guard during the Bosnian War from 1992 through 1995, according to authorities.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg sentenced Mladen Mitrovic, 55, who is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, last week.
He is charged with getting his U.S. citizenship by providing false information on his naturalization application, according to officials.
The judge also granted a motion by prosecutors to revoke Mitrovic’s citizenship, although the revocation order will not take effect until after a federal appeals court reviews the case, officials said.
Mitrovic was convicted on May 26, 2016, of failing to disclose his role as a prison guard as part of the “ethnic cleansing” that occurred during the Bosnian War, officials said.
A victim testified at trial that Mitrovic had used a sharp military knife to carve a Christian cross into his chest, saying from that moment on, he “was going to be a Serb.”
Others testified that Mitrovic and other soldiers beat non-Serb prisoners into unconsciousness or threatened to kill them with automatic rifles.
Another victim said that he would never forget how people looked after Mitrovic and other soldiers had beaten and tortured them. A victim testified how shocked and frightened he had been when Mitrovic, a friend before the war, threatened to kill him with an automatic rifle, according to officials.
Bosnian government documents also showed that in February 1996, Mitrovic applied for and was later awarded veterans’ benefits for his later military service during the Bosnian War.
Trial evidence showed that Mitrovic failed to disclose any of this conduct.
“The defendant tried to game our country’s immigration process to conceal his record of flagrant human rights violations,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Together with our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and HSI, however, the Criminal Division was able to ensure that both his immigration crimes and his human rights abuses saw the light of day. Cases like this demonstrate how we ensure that the United States does not become a safe haven for human rights violators.”
According to evidence presented at trial, in 1996, these are the facts and circumstances surrounding this case:
Mitrovic was permitted to immigrate to the United States based on his statements in his refugee application that he feared persecution if he remained in Bosnia, officials maintain.
In 2002, he naturalized as an American citizen.
Mitrovic stated in his application, among other things, that he had never persecuted anyone because of their race, religion or membership in a social group; he had never committed a criminal offense for which he had not been arrested, and he had never provided any false or misleading information to obtain an immigration benefit, such as refugee status.
In reality, as the trial evidence established, during the Bosnian War, Mitrovic had been a guard in one of the prison camps that the Bosnian Serb Army opened in May 1992 to “ethnically cleanse” northwest Bosnia of non-Serb minorities.
U.S. authorities began investigating Mitrovic after a former prisoner from the prison camp where Mitrovic had served went to authorities. That individual, who came to the United States as a refugee, thought that Mitrovic had died during the war.
But in 2011, he learned that Mitrovic was living in the Atlanta area and he contacted U.S. immigration authorities.
“Mitrovic believed he could bury his past and the horrific human rights violations he committed during the Bosnian War,” said U. S. Attorney Horn. “Our immigration system endeavors to flag those who have committed human rights violations, especially for those who seek refugee status from persecution. Mitrovic’s application turned this humanitarian process on its head, and it’s incredibly fitting that he ultimately was discovered by a refugee from Mitrovic’s own abuses.”
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