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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

Friday, June 24, 2011

Former Bosnian Prison Guard Charged With Unlawful Application For Naturalization

Almaz Nezirovic Failed To Disclose His Military Service

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA -- A former guard at the Rabic camp in Derventa Municipality of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who allegedly committed abuses against Serb civilians being detained at the camp, has been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia on charges related to an unlawful Application for Naturalization.

In an indicted returned under seal on June 9, 2011 and unsealed this afternoon following his initial court appearance, the grand jury has charged Almaz Nezirovic, 52, of Roanoke, Va., with one count of submitting an unlawful application for naturalization and one count of making a false statement at a naturalization interview. If convicted, the maximum penalty faced by the defendant is ten years incarceration on count one and five years incarceration on count two.

According to the indictment, between June 1992 and December 1995 the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was in a state of war. During that war, the defendant, Nezirovic, was a member of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) where he served as a guard at the Rabic camp, which detained Serb citizens. While serving as a guard, Nezirovic is alleged to have beat and inhumanely treated ZS, ZL, ML and other Serb citizens.

When making an application to seek admission into the United States as a refugee in 1997, Nezirovic failed to disclose that, while serving with the HVO, he assaulted and inhumanely treated Serb civilians, facts that would have likely prevented the defendant from being granted refugee status into the United States. On or about August 11, 1997, Nezirovic entered the United States as a refugee.

On or about April 19, 1999, Nezirovic filed an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Again, the defendant did not disclose his military service with HVO and declared under penalty of perjury that he did not knowingly commit any crime of moral turpitude in or outside of the United States.

By not disclosing his military service with HVO and his crimes against Serb civilians, Nezirovic cut off any further inquiry that would have elicited information about his actions while serving with HVO, which would have negatively impacted his eligibility for the immigration benefit sought.

The investigation of the case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations. United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy and Sarah Pacheo, Senior Attorney for ICE HSI Washington field office are prosecuting the case for the United States.

A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated April 15, 2015