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HSI arrests former Bosnian prison camp supervisor charged with decades-long scheme to conceal wartime involvement

Human RightsHSI arrests former Bosnian prison camp supervisor charged with decades-long scheme to conceal wartime involvement

BOSTON — Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New England arrested a Swampscott man charged May 17 for allegedly participating in beatings and other prisoner abuses in Bosnia and Herzegovina, misrepresenting this material fact in his immigration application to come to the United States and, later, to become a U.S. citizen.

Kemal Mrndzic, 50, was charged with falsifying, concealing and covering up a material fact from the U.S. government by trick, scheme or device; using a fraudulently obtained U.S. passport; and possessing and using a fraudulently obtained naturalization certificate and fraudulently obtained Social Security card. Mrndzic was arrested May 17, and following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston before Chief Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley, was released on a $30,000 cash bond.

“Mrndzic is alleged to have concealed his violent past at the notorious Celebici prison camp, a prison with well-documented cases of violence, abuse and even murder of prisoners during the Bosnian War,” said HSI Assistant Director for National Security Andre Watson. “The Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) will continue to use our deep regional expertise to pursue human rights violators and hold them accountable for their actions.”

According to the complaint affidavit, Mrndzic served as a supervisor of the guards at a notorious prison camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the sectarian war that fractured the country in the 1990s. The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found that guards at the Celebici prison camp had committed numerous murders and rapes and had engaged in torture and other forms of persecution of Serb prisoners. Three of Mrndzic’s fellow guards were convicted after a trial in The Hague where survivors testified on the prison’s harrowing conditions. According to the complaint, numerous survivors have since identified Mrndzic as being involved in the beatings and other abuses committed there.

According to court documents, after the war ended, investigators from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia interviewed Mrndzic in Sarajevo and allegedly accused him of being involved in the abuses at Celebici. Mrndzic subsequently concocted a scheme to flee the country by crossing the border into Croatia and allegedly applying to enter the United States using a fabricated story. It is alleged that in his application and interview, he falsely claimed that he fled his home after he was captured, interrogated and abused by Serb forces, and could not return home. He was admitted to the United States in 1999, and ultimately became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009.

The use of a fraudulently obtained passport and naturalization certificate charges each provide for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. On each of the two remaining charges, the maximum sentence under the statutes is five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes that govern criminal sentencing.

Details of the crimes committed at Celebici in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s judgment are available online.

U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins, HSI New England acting Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Krol, Social Security Administration Special Agent in Charge Sharon B. MacDermott of the Office of Inspector General’s Boston field office, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service’s Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Davidson in Boston made the announcement today. HSI New England investigated the case with help from HSI’s Human Rights Violators & War Crimes Center. The Swampscott Police Department also provided important assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John T. McNeil and Jason A. Casey of Rollins’ National Security Unit are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Celebici Camp survivors and family members who have information about the operation of the camp, or have questions regarding this matter, should call the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 888-221-6023 or send an email to USMA.VictimAssistance@usdoj.gov. Please indicate if you would prefer to be contacted in English or Serbo-Croatian.

Information available in Bosnian1 and Serbian2

Established in 2008, the HRVWCC furthers HSI’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Since 2003, HSI has arrested more than 480 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and immigration statutes. During that same period, HSI obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 1100 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, HSI has facilitated the departure of an additional 186 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 160 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 78,000 lookouts for individuals and stopped over 350 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the HSI tip line at 866-347-2423. Callers may remain anonymous.

1Bivši logoraši koji su bili u logoru u Čelebićima ili članovi njihovih porodica koji imaju informacije o logoru ili pitanje o ovom predmetu, mogu nazvati Jedinice za pomoć žrtаva kod kancelarije federalnog tužioca tel. 888-221-6023 ili putem e-mailom:  usma.victimassistance@usdoj.gov. Molim obavjestite nas ako želite da mi vas kontaktiramo na engleskom ili na srpskom-hrvatskom-bosanskom jeziku.

2Бивши логораши који су били у логору Челебићима или чланови њихових породица који имају информације о логору или питање о овом предмету, могу назвати Јединице за помоћ жртава код канцеларије федералног тужиоца тел. 888-221-6023 или путем е-маилом: usma.victimassistance@usdoj.gov. Молим обавјестите нас ако желите да ми вас контактирамо на енгелеском или на српском-хрватском босанском језику.

Story from www.ice.gov

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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