Justice Department Seeks to Denaturalize Illinois Man Who Allegedly Concealed Service in Military Unit that Perpetrated Srebrenica Massacre
Defendant Was Allegedly a Member of the Notorious “Zvornik Brigade,” One of the Military Units that Perpetrated the Largest Mass Atrocity in Europe Since the Holocaust
The Justice Department today filed a denaturalization lawsuit against Nedjo Milosevic, a native of the former Yugoslavia, who, according to the Department’s complaint, was a member of one of the military units responsible for the Srebrenica massacre—the largest mass atrocity in Europe since the Holocaust. The complaint alleges that Milosevic concealed his military service in order to enter the United States as a refugee, and continued to conceal it throughout his naturalization proceedings. The civil complaint was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois.
“The naturalization process is a shining example of the United States’ generosity to the rest of the world, but it is not available to war criminals,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. “The United States will use every available law enforcement tool to combat human rights abuses like these, including the civil denaturalization process.”
“Nedjo Milosevic tried to cheat our nation’s immigration system by lying about his military role during the Bosnian War,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Derek Benner. “This denaturalization filing demonstrates the U.S. government’s enduring commitment to identify and bring to justice those who are suspected to have taken part in human rights violations in any part of the world. The United States will not serve as a safe haven for those who would commit such atrocities.”
According to the complaint, Milosevic, 53, a resident of Harwood Heights, Illinois, was a member of the Military Police Company of the Zvornik Brigade of the Army of the Serb Republic—the military arm of an entity within Bosnia controlled by ethnic Serbs. The Zvornik Brigade, including the Military Police Company, were active during the Srebrenica massacre during which, over the course of several days in July 1995, approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically killed and more than 30,000 women, children, and elderly were forcibly separated and expelled from the region. The complaint alleges that Milosevic was deployed in the field during the Srebrenica massacre.
Before his military service had come to light, Milosevic requested and received refugee status in the United States. The complaint alleges that Milosevic concealed and affirmatively misrepresented his military service in order to obtain immigration benefits, including naturalization. The complaint also alleges that Milosevic falsely stated that he was living in Serbia, rather than Bosnia, in order to qualify for refugee status.
“The United States is committed to combating human rights abuses,” said U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. of the Northern District of Illinois. “We will not allow our country to be a safe haven for anyone who has participated in or helped perpetrate such atrocities in any capacity. Regardless of how long ago, or how far away, it will never be tolerated.”
This civil denaturalization case follows the criminal conviction of a member of the Army of the Serb Republic for making materially false statements on his application for refugee status, which also involved concealment of service in a military unit connected to the Srebrenica massacre, as well as civil denaturalization actions against alleged members of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, convicted in Bosnia of murdering civilians and prisoners of war during the 1990s Balkans conflict, and an alleged member of the Croatian Defense Council, who participated in extrajudicial killings during the same conflict.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago and supported by the ICE Human Rights Violator and War Crimes Center and the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation, District Court Section (OIL-DCS), with consultation and support from ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) Human Rights Law Section and Chicago Office of Chief Counsel, and the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section. The case is being prosecuted by Counsel for National Security Aaron Petty of OIL-DCS’s National Security and Affirmative Litigation Unit with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
The claims made in the complaint are allegations only, and there have been no determinations of liability.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals or naturalized U.S. citizens suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are encouraged to contact U.S. law enforcement through the DHS tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or to complete its online tip form at www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp, or through the Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section at email@example.com or 1-800-813-5863. Callers may remain anonymous.