UT: IMMIGRANT ADMITS LINK TO GENOCIDE GROUP
A 56-year-old resident alien from Bosnia who has been living in the Salt Lake City area admitted in federal court Tuesday to failing to mention in immigration documents his involvement with a military group accused of genocide in the massacre of Bosnian Muslims.
Federal immigration laws forbid the entry of someone who is considered an "oppressor" in a conflict.
Milenko Stjepanovic appeared in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake to plead guilty to the charge of visa fraud.
Stjepanovic admitted in court that on his application for a green card, he noted that he served in the Yugoslavian People's Army from 1969 to 1970 but failed to disclose that he also served with the Army of the Republica Srpska, or the Vojska Republica Srpska (VRS). A war-crimes inquiry found that members of the VRS participated in human-rights violations, including the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995.
The Srebrenica incident has been classified as genocide by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Stjepanovic is one of five Bosnian immigrants living in the Salt Lake area who were indicted in June 2006 for Visa fraud. All of them had applied for refugee status but failed to disclose their service with the VRS.
A federal prosecutor said Tuesday that Stjepanovic's wife was one of those investigated, but military records showed she had only worked as a cook, and charges were dropped.
Another man, Branko Ristic, has a federal trial pending in Salt Lake City. A third man has agreed to testify before an international war-crimes tribunal about what he knows regarding the massacre. In exchange for his testimony, he may be allowed to re-apply for a U.S. visa, depending on the value of his testimony.
Charges were dropped against a fourth man.
Reports nationwide show that numerous Bosnians have failed to disclose their involvement during the war, out of concern that they would not be given visas to enter the United States.