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Enforcement and Removal
01/20/2010

Bosnian taken to face genocide charges

WASHINGTON - A former Bosnian-Serb commander in the wartime Special Police Forces of the former Republika Srpska was removed from the United States on Jan. 19, 2010, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in order to face genocide related charges in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nedjo Ikonic, formerly of Milwaukee, Wis., came into ICE custody after completing a one-year sentence in federal prison. He was escorted by ICE agents to Sarajevo, where he was turned over to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Border Police.

Ikonic was arrested by ICE in December 2006, after it was determined that he had been the commander of a composite police unit involved in a genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995. Following the seizure of Srebrenica, Bosnian-Serb army and police forces captured nearly 8,000 military-age Bosnian men - almost all of whom were subsequently murdered in a series of mass-executions. Police officers under Ikonic's direct command were involved in the capture of hundreds of these men, and have been implicated in the extrajudicial killing of at least 20 men. Those forces were also part of the effort to forcibly transfer approximately 40,000 Bosnian women, children and elderly permanently from the area.

Ikonic's arrest and subsequent guilty plea on two counts of immigration fraud in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Sept. 15, 2008, was the result of a transnational investigation undertaken by ICE after receiving information that he was residing in the United States. Working with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Milwaukee, ICE sought to establish Ikonic's activities during the 1992-95 conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. ICE worked with international war crimes investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (in The Hague), and investigators from the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo. Based on this investigation, ICE was able to determine that Ikonic committed a number of fraudulent acts by concealing his police service from immigration officials when he sought to enter the United States in 2001. He later reiterated those omissions when he applied for legal status in 2003.

"ICE will not allow the United States to be a safe haven for those who are hiding from prosecution and punishment for the crimes they have committed elsewhere," said John Morton, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. "We will not relent in our efforts to ensure that human rights violators are brought to justice and removed from our communities."

While still serving his prison sentence, Ikonic was entered into removal proceedings by ICE immigration attorneys, where an immigration judge subsequently ordered him removed to Bosnia and Herzegovina. After completing his sentence on Dec. 31, 2009, Ikonic was returned to ICE custody and held at the El Paso Processing Center in El Paso, Texas pending his removal.

For additional background on ICE Human Rights Violators investigations, please visit: http://www.ice.gov/human-rights-violators/index.htm.