Mladen Mitrovic, 54, of Loganville, Georgia, was found guilty by a federal jury of obtaining his U.S. citizenship by providing false and fraudulent information on his naturalization application, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta.
Among other things, Mitrovic, who is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, failed to disclose his role as a prison guard in a detention camp, which was part of the “ethnic cleansing” that occurred during the Bosnian War from 1992 through 1995. Mitrovic was convicted yesterday and his sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 25, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg of the Northern District of Georgia.
“This case demonstrates the Justice Department’s continued commitment to denying safe haven to human rights violators,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “No matter how long it takes, we will pursue justice, protect the integrity of our immigration system and seek accountability for crimes.”
“Mitrovic thought that he could bury his past and the horrific human rights violations he committed during the Bosnian War,” said U.S. Attorney Horn. “A jury saw through his deceit and he will now be held accountable for failing to be truthful during the naturalization process.”
“Human rights violators who think they can conceal their past to escape accountability in the United States are sorely mistaken,” said Special Agent in Charge Annan. “This individual tried to cheat our nation's immigration system by lying about his actions during the Bosnian Civil War. This result shows that HSI is firmly committed to investigating and identifying criminals who seek to exploit our nation’s welcoming policy toward legitimate war refugees.”
According to evidence presented at trial, in 1996, Mitrovic was permitted to immigrate to the United States based on his statements in his refugee application that he feared persecution if he remained in Bosnia. In 2002, he naturalized as an American citizen. The evidence presented at trial also demonstrated that on his naturalization application, Mitrovic stated, among other things, that he had never persecuted anyone because of their race, religion or membership in a social group; he had never committed a criminal offense for which he had not been arrested; and he had never provided any false or misleading information to obtain an immigration benefit, such as refugee status.
In reality, as the trial evidence established, during the Bosnian War, Mitrovic had been a guard in one of the prison camps that the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) opened in May 1992 to “ethnically cleanse” northwest Bosnia of non-Serb minorities. At trial, one victim testified that Mitrovic had used a sharp military knife to carve a Christian cross into his chest, saying from that moment on, he “was going to be a Serb.” Others testified that Mitrovic and other soldiers beat non-Serb prisoners into unconsciousness or threatened to kill them with automatic rifles. Bosnian government documents also showed that in February 1996, Mitrovic applied for and was later awarded veterans’ benefits for his later military service in the VRS during the Bosnian War. Trial evidence showed that Mitrovic failed to disclose any of this conduct or military service on his refugee and naturalization applications.
HSI investigated this case. Assistant Deputy Chief Christina Giffin of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Traynor and Jessica Morris of the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.