Friday, April 20, 2018

Vegas grocer accused of war crimes sent to Bosnia

LAS VEGAS — A man accused of commanding a police squad that rounded up Bosnian Muslims for slaughter in 1995 fashioned a new life in Las Vegas as a modest grocery store owner before being arrested and deported to his native country, a lawyer and U.S. officials said Thursday.

Dejan Radojkovic arrived in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, after an overnight commercial airline flight from Las Vegas accompanied by federal agents, said Bosnian authorities and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Radojkovic's lawyer in Las Vegas, Don Chairez, denied any evidence links the 61-year-old man — a permanent U.S. resident and father of two — with the execution of Muslim boys and men in an event considered Europe's bloodiest mass killing since World War II.

Prosecutors allege Radojkovic commanded a special police brigade that rounded up about 200 Muslim men in July 1995 in the Konjevic Polje region for execution, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement statement said.

Chairez said Radojkovic's national guard unit accepted the surrender of about 200 enemy soldiers and turned them over to Bosnian Serb forces. Chairez said Radojkovic didn't know the men would be killed.

Radojkovic was arrested in January 2009 for failing to disclose his wartime history when he entered the United States, said Nicole Navas, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman in Washington.

An immigration judge in late 2009 ordered him deported on multiple grounds, finding that he ordered or participated in "extrajudicial killing." He has remained in U.S. custody.

"For the families who lost loved ones at Srebrenica, justice has been a long time coming," Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton said in a statement announcing Radojkovic's deportation. "But they can take consolation in the fact that those responsible for this tragedy are now being held accountable."

Morton promised to ensure the United States "does not serve as a haven for human rights violators and others who have committed heinous acts."

Authorities preparing for the trial of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic on war crimes charges at The Hague, Netherlands, said this month the remains of almost 6,000 people were exhumed from mass graves in the Srebrenica area. Estimates of the dead run as high as 8,000.

Mladic's trial on wider charges stemming from atrocities during a process dubbed "ethnic cleansing" resumes June 25. Bosnia's 1992-95 war after the breakup of the former Soviet republic of Yugoslavia left more than 100,000 dead.

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