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July 27, 2017Cleveland, OH, United StatesHuman Rights Violators

Former Bosnian Serb military officer deported after immigration fraud conviction

CLEVELAND — A former Bosnian Serb military officer was deported July 27, by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Cleveland, after being convicted of two counts of possession of immigration documents procured by fraud. The man failed to disclose his military service in a unit that is implicated in assisting in the persecution and genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in July 1995.

Ilija Josipovic, 59, was removed to Bosnia via commercial airline under escort by deportation officers with ICE ERO without incident. In May, Josipovic pled guilty to two counts of possession of immigration documents procured by fraud. In the first count, Josipovic admitted that on Feb. 1, 2012, he used his Permanent Resident Card to obtain an Ohio driver’s license, knowing that the card was fraudulently obtained.  In the second count, he admitted possessing a Permanent Resident Card in his name which he knew was procured by fraud.  Consequently, U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson ordered Josipovic removed from the United States.

In 2002, Josipovic omitted and failed to disclose his military service, which began around May 25, 1992, and continued until approximately 1996, in the 6th Battalion, Zvornik Infantry Brigade, Army of the Republika Srpska, according to court documents. That unit is implicated in assisting in the events of Srebrenica where approximately 8,000 men and boys were executed and 30,000 women and children were violently expelled from the United Nations Safe Area, a crime that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia formally ruled to be genocide.

The investigation leading to the Josipovic’s deportation was conducted by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Cleveland and supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE efforts to identify, track, and prosecute human rights abusers, 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, ICE has arrested more than 380 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108  individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 160 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,400 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped 213 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 ICE Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.

Updated: 11/19/2020