The Department of Justice is seeking to strip the citizenship from two Yugoslav nationals convicted of war crimes, including the murder of civilians and prisoners, for their actions in the early 1990s Balkans conflict.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed denaturalization papers against Edin Dzeko, 46, and Sammy Rasema Yetisen, aka Rasema Handanovic, 45, in the U.S. District of Oregon and the U.S. District of Columbia. The pair immigrated to the United States in 2001 and became naturalized citizens in 2006. But according to prosecutors, Dzeko and Yetisen concealed and misrepresented their military and criminal backgrounds.
Justice Department court filings allege Dzeko and Yetisen participated in the Trusina massacre in 1993, when an elite unit of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina attacked a village killing 22, including four civilians. A Bosnian court ruled that Dzeko and Yetisen played a key role in the massacre, according to court documents. Dzeko was convicted in 2014, while Yetisen was convicted in 2012, the DOJ said.
Yetisen was sentenced by the Bosnian court to serve five years and six months, but has since been released from prison and is currently living in Oregon. Dzeko is still serving his prison sentence, the Justice Department said.
Dzeko and Yetisen requested refugee status from the United States in the late 1990s, claiming to be victims of persecution, the Justice Department said. Prosecutors contend the two concealed their actions and military history during the immigration process.
“War criminals will find no safe haven or shelter within the United States,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “We will be steadfast as we investigate and prosecute human rights violators, torturers, and war criminals. This is especially true for those who fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship. For too long, we have tolerated egregious fraud in our refugee program, our immigration system, and the naturalization process. This Administration will hold alleged fraudsters accountable.”
The denaturalization filing follows last week’s sentencing of Milan Trisic, 55, a Bosnian Serb residing in Charlotte who concealed his role in a 1995 Srebrenica massage that resulted in the deaths of between 7,000 and 8,000 Bosnian man. Trisic received 18 months in prison for making false statements on his green card application.