- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - The father of Miss Oregon was a member of a Serbian military unit that slaughtered unarmed Muslims in Bosnia in 1995, the U.S. government says in an immigration case.

Milenko Krstic (kris-tich), 52, is accused of visa fraud. The government, however, hasn’t alleged that he took part in killings.

“He is not a war criminal candidate,” his lawyer says.

His daughter, Danijela, 24, serves as queen of the Oregon pageant. Crowned in June, Danijela Krstic was the first foreign-born winner of the pageant. A call to a Miss Oregon official was not returned, and attempts to reach family members were unsuccessful.

This week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his attempt to throw out his 2007 indictment, reversing a Portland judge. The decision was first reported by The Oregonian.

Lawyers involved say two similar federal cases are pending in Oregon, one involving Milenko’s brother, Ostoja, and are on hold pending the appeals in Milenko Krstic’s case.

Across the country, a number of former Bosnian Serbs have been prosecuted on similar immigration charges, a result of U.S. officials comparing their records to lists made available by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

In Milenko Krstic’s case, the government alleges that when he sought refugee status and a green card he didn’t tell immigration officials that he was a member of the Bosnian Serb army’s Zvornik brigade, which took part in the massacre of thousands of Muslims from the village of Srebrenica.

His lawyer, Christopher Schatz, said Krstic was a conscripted clerk at the unit’s headquarters, “nowhere near Srebrenica,” and didn’t participate in, nor know about, mass killings during the war in Bosnia, which ended in 1995.

Schatz said Krstic before the war gained a reputation as a peacemaker, joining with his Muslim supervisor at a coal mine on a “reconciliation commission” that tried to avert the fighting that broke out in 1992.

A prosecution document said that one mass killing was at a school “in close physical proximity to battalion headquarters where records show that defendant was working at the time.”

Schatz said Krstic is a mining engineer who now works in production operating a lathe.

Schatz said they were distraught over the possibility raised in The Oregonian article on Friday that all family members might be deported. Krstic lives in Beaverton with his wife. They have two daughters. Schatz said all three women have gained citizenship.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle, Lorie Dankers, said she could not comment on the Krstic case. She said deportation would be a possibility in cases of visa fraud, but family members involved in such cases who could show their immigration benefit was gained independently might not be.

The immigration proceedings would follow the criminal proceedings, which in the Krstic case could be lengthy.

Schatz said the appeals would reach to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

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