WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers today removed from the United States a Bosnian-born Vermont man who surrendered his U.S. citizenship because he lied about his military service during the Bosnian War.
These actions resulted from an investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont and the Department of Justice Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section prosecuted the case.
Edin Sakoč, 55, of Burlington, Vermont, stipulated to the court’s order of denaturalization and loss of citizenship based on a civil complaint alleging that he illegally and fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship by giving false or misleading information to a U.S. official.
According to court documents, when Sakoč sought status in the United States in 2001, he misrepresented his wartime service by denying he served in the Croatian Defense Council (HVO). HVO forces committed numerous serious human rights violations during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.
ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. These individuals may use fraudulent identities to enter the country and attempt to blend into communities in the United States.
Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 360 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 780 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.
Currently, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations has more than 125 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 97 different countries. Over the last four years, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center has issued more than 70,100 lookouts for individuals from more than 111 countries and stopped 193 human rights violators or war crime suspects from entering the United States.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also email HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov or complete ICE’s online tip form.