Prosecutors Accuse Vt. Man of Lying About War Crimes

Prosecutors Accuse Vt. Man of Lying About War Crimes

U.S. prosecutors accuse a man now living in Vermont of committing war crimes in Bosnia and then lying about them when he tried to move the U.S. and get his U.S. citizenship.
BURLINGTON, Vt. - U.S. prosecutors accuse a man now living in Vermont of committing war crimes in Bosnia and then lying about them when he tried to move the U.S. and get his U.S. citizenship.

In U.S. District Court in Burlington Friday, Edin Sakoc, 54, pleaded not guilty to two charges related to making untrue statements to immigration officials. If convicted, Sakoc could face up to ten years in prison, have his U.S. citizenship revoked, and a fine of up to $250,000.

In a seven page indictment, prosecutors say Sakoc took part in the armed conflict in Bosnia in 1992. That conflict involved fighting between different ethnic and religious groups. Also citizens living in areas that came under control of those groups were attacked.

In July 1992, prosecutors say Sakoc, a Bosnian Muslim, went to a village located in the Capljina municipality. That's where Sakoc and another person went to the home of a Serb family. Prosecutors say Sakoc raped someone and took them to a prison camp. Soon after they say Sakoc returned to the home and helped killed two other people and burned down the home.

Nearly a decade later, prosecutors say Sakoc applied for refugee status to come to the U.S. and was asked about prior military service. In court documents, they say Sakoc denied "any acts of persecution while in the military." Soon after he was allowed to enter the U.S. as a refugee and moved to Vermont in 2001.

In 2004, prosecutors say Sakoc also denied past crimes during the process of becoming a legal permanent resident. They say he did a similar thing in 2007 when he applied to become a naturalized citizen.

Prosecutors did not say very much about Sakoc's life in Vermont. Neighbors say he lived in an apartment on Riverside Avenue in Burlington with his wife and young daughter. A neighbor says they kept to themselves. In court, Sakoc needed the help of a translator to understand the proceedings.


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