A Tucson man was convicted by a federal jury on charges of visa fraud and attempted unlawful procurement of citizenship after being identified as a military prison guard with connection to ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian War .
Sinisa Djurdjic, of Tucson, was convicted May 19 after a nine-day trial before U.S. District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps.
In 2009, Homeland Security Investigations launched an investigation upon receiving a roster of a police brigade suspected of various atrocities during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina that identified one of the members of that brigade as Djurdjic, who emigrated to Tucson under the U.S. refugee program in 2000.
HSI discovered on various U.S. immigration applications, Djurdjic had denied serving in foreign military and police units. The multiyear international investigation by HSI confirmed that Djurdjic was indeed a member of that police brigade and other Bosnian-Serb military units, and that Djurdjic harmed prisoners in his custody.
HSI agents traveled to Bosnia on multiple occasions, interviewed dozens of witnesses, and collected documentation from the Bosnian government, the Serbian government, and from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
Agents discovered Djurdjic was a prison guard at two camps established north of Sarajevo by “Republika Srpska,” the Bosnian-Serb entity that espoused the idea of “ethnic cleansing” during the civil war and sought to exclude all Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats from certain areas within Bosnia.
During the trial, five Bosnian men who were held at the prison camps testified as to the abuses they suffered or witnessed at the hands of Djurdjic.
The United States presented extensive documentation demonstrating that Djurdjic had lied on various immigration applications about his previous military and police service, and had intentionally misled U.S. immigration officials about his past to gain legal status in the United States.
"We commend the courage and tenacity of the Bosnians who testified against the defendant and held him accountable for his false statements while seeking legal status in the United States,” said United States Attorney Gary Restaino. “Providing opportunities for refugees and asylees is quintessentially American. Safeguarding those opportunities requires vigilance to ensure that the American dream is foreclosed to those who lie about a disqualifying past.”