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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Vermont War Criminal Must Leave the Country

(CN) - A Bosnian-born Vermont man who lied to immigration officials about war crimes surrendered his U.S citizenship and agreed to removal from the country.

According to federal officials, Edin Sakoc, 55, concealed his military service during the Bosnian conflict when he applied for refugee status in 2001, and then again during applications for permanent residency and citizenship.

Sakoc, a former member of the Croatian Defense Council, also denied committing any acts of persecution when originally questioned by Immigration authorities.

But prosecutors said Wednesday that in 1992, Sakoc, who is Muslim, raped an Orthodox Christian Serbian woman and forced her into a prison camp.

He then allegedly returned to her home with a co-conspirator, fatally shooting two elderly people she was caring for before burning down the house with their bodies inside.

In January 2015, Sakoc was tried and convicted of charges of lying to immigration officials, but his conviction was overturned seven months later by a federal judge who found that prosecutors had themselves made false statements not included in the indictment or any other court document.

Throughout the trial, Sakoc maintained the crimes he was accused of were actually committed by a Bosnian Croat army commander.

As a result Sakoc's promise to leave, prosecutors said they will dismiss the criminal charges that could have sent him to prison for up to 10 years.

Sakoc has been given a minimum of 45 days before the formal hearing to strip him of his citizenship so that he can make arrangements to leave the United States.

The agreement says the U.S. citizenship of his wife, Fata Sakoc, will not be affected by her husband's decision.

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