ATLANTA, May 26 (UPI) — A suburban Atlanta man faces up to 10 years in federal prison and possible deportation after he was convicted of securing U.S. citizenship by keeping secret his role as a concentration camp guard during the Bosnian War.
Mladen Mitrovic, 54, had been living in Loganville, Ga., for two decades when investigators were tipped off to his past. He was found guilty of using “false and fraudulent information on his naturalization application.”
He was permitted to immigrate to the United States in 2002 because he feared persecution if he remained in Bosnia, U.S. prosecutors said. Mitrovic, in his naturalization application, said “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.”
A federal jury on Wednesday found he lied.
Prosecutors said he worked as a guard at a detention camp run by the Bosnian Serb Army in 1992 to “ethnically cleanse” northwest Bosnia of non-Serb minorities during the Bosnian War. During the trial, a victim testified 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 said Mitrovic and other soldiers beat non-Serb prisoners and threatened their lives. Prosecutors said Bosnian government documents show Mitrovic applied for and was later awarded veterans’ benefits for his military service.
“Mitrovic thought that he could bury his past and the horrific human rights violations he committed during the Bosnian War,” U.S. Attorney John Horn, of the Northern District of Georgia, said. “A jury saw through his deceit and he will now be held accountable for failing to be truthful during the naturalization process.”
Mitrovic, who will be sentenced on Aug. 25, said he is innocent of the allegations.His attorney, Jeff Ertel, said the government’s case made little sense because Mitrovic was a Croat Catholic, meaning the Serbs likely wouldn’t have wanted him as a guard.
“Not only is Mr. Mitrovic not guilty, he’s innocent,” Ertel said. “He wasn’t a guard at that camp. He never persecuted anybody.”