The U.S. extradited a former wartime prison guard who had moved to Virginia back to Bosnia, where he was charged with committing war crimes, immigration officials said Tuesday.
Almaz Nezirovic, 54, formerly of Roanoke, was extradited Wednesday to Bosnia-Herzegovina after a multiyear investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Mr. Nezirovic was charged in Bosnia with committing war crimes against civilians between April and July 1992 during the Bosnian War, authorities said in a statement.
He was a wartime guard at the Rabic Prison Camp in the Derventa Municipality.
“In April 1992, Nezirovic joined a mixed Croatian-Muslim paramilitary group in northern Bosnia, and became a prison guard. Bosnian officials charge that while serving as a prison guard, Nezirovic committed war crimes by beating, humiliating and traumatizing unarmed civilian prisoners, causing severe personal injury. This included allegedly stripping victims naked, beating them severely with a club, and forcing them to eat grass on which others had urinated,” the ICE statement said.
The investigation began in 2009, when ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center heard from the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office in Sarajevo about suspected war criminals.
“The center and HSI Washington, D.C., special agents initiated an investigation after identifying and locating Nezirovic in Roanoke, Virginia,” the statement said. The HSI spoke with the former prisoners of the camp in 2010 and that led to an indictment in the Western District of Virginia U.S. District Court.
“The investigation and extradition of individuals like Mr. Nezirovic are paramount to the mission of Homeland Security Investigations and to the safety and security of the United States,” Special Agent in Charge Clark Settles said. “War criminals will not be left to hide in our communities; they will be hunted down and made to face the consequences of their crimes.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Giorno said the extradition “marks the culmination of years of legal effort to have Mr. Nezirovic properly face trial for the horrible acts of abuse he is charged with committing against civilian victims.”
“The case marks a significant achievement in law enforcement’s important, ongoing efforts to help bring international fugitives such as Mr. Nezirovic to justice, consistently with the laws and treaty obligations of the United States,” Mr. Giorno said.