Feds say man accused in Bosnian killings lied to be refugee
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man suspected of killing three people while fighting in Bosnia’s war in the 1990s lied to get into the U.S. as a refugee and quietly operated a trucking company in northern Iowa, federal authorities said.
Twenty years later, the Justice Department filed paperwork Thursday seeking to strip Eso Razic of his citizenship, which would free immigration officials to have him deported. He might be investigated for war crimes stemming from his alleged involvement in the conflict, according to documents provided to federal authorities by Bosnian law enforcement.
Bosnia’s 1992-95 war pitted the main ethnic communities — Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs — against one another during the bloody breakup of the Yugoslav federation. For the majority of the conflict, Bosniaks and Croats were allies against the Serbs, but in 1993 they fought a short but brutal war between themselves.
Razic was, until then, a member of the Croat Defense Council, where authorities say he participated in the killing of a wounded Serb prisoner of war, according to court documents. When the Bosniak-Croat alliance fell apart, the documents say, Razic turned on his former Croat comrades, killing two of them.
He could not immediately be reached for comment, and court records don’t list an attorney.
Those crimes would have barred him from becoming a lawful permanent resident in the U.S and kept him from becoming a citizen. But authorities said Razic concealed his violent past when he applied for refugee status to enter the U.S. in 1998, writing on his forms that he lost his house and hairdressing shop in the war and was beaten in a detention camp. But court documents say he made no mention of his participation in several of the many paramilitary organizations that operated during the war.
Asked on immigration forms whether he had ever engaged in genocide or killed anyone because of their political affiliation or religion, Razic answered “No.”
That allowed him to enter the U.S. as a refugee, and he became a naturalized citizen in 2004. Court records reveal little about his life in Dubuque, Iowa. But records show he ran a company with one truck in Asbury, a small community on the western edge of the city.
It’s unclear how authorities discovered him.
Associated Press writers Sabina Nicsik in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.