Ex-Bosnian War guard jailed nearly 5 years in for lying to U.S. immigration

ATLANTA, Aug. 30 (UPI) — A suburban Atlanta man has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for obtaining U.S. citizenship by keeping his role as a Bosnian War concentration camp guard a secret.

Mladen Mitrovic, 55, originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, had been living in Loganville, Ga., for two decades when investigators were alerted to his past. In May, he was found guilty of using “false and fraudulent information on his naturalization application.”

He was permitted to immigrate to the United States in 1996 because he feared persecution if he remained in Bosnia, the Justice Department said in a statement. In his naturalization application, Mitrovic said “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.”

Prosecutors said Mitrovic worked as a guard at a detention camp run by the Bosnian Serb Army in 1992 to “ethnically cleanse” northwest Bosnia of non-Serb minorities during the Bosnian War. During the trial, a victim testified 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.”

“Mitrovic believed he could bury his past and the horrific human rights violations he committed during the Bosnian War,” U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia said in a statement. “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.”

Others said Mitrovic and other soldiers beat non-Serb prisoners and threatened their lives. Prosecutors said Bosnian government documents show Mitrovic applied for and was later awarded veterans’ benefits for his military service.

“The defendant tried to game our country’s immigration process to conceal his record of flagrant human rights violations,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said in a statement. “Cases like this demonstrate how we ensure that the United States does not become a safe haven for human rights violators.”

Amy R. Connolly contributed to this report.

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