A man accused of being a Bosnian war criminal who faked his way into the US was arrested in Boston, according to court records.
Kemal Mrndzic, who authorities took into custody on Wednesday, allegedly oversaw a prison camp in Bosnia & Herzegovina where prisoners were murdered, raped, and tortured in the 1990s.
Federal prosecutors allege that Mr Mrndzic, 50, lied about being a refugee and claimed he had US citizenship, according to Boston.com.
They claim he worked as a supervisor at the Čelebići prison camp in the country during the Bosnian War. Survivors accused him of being involved in the war crimes committed against prisoners at the camp.
He has been charged with falsifying, concealing, and covering up a material fact from the US government by trick, scheme, or device, for using a fraudulently obtained US passport, and for possessing and using a fraudulently obtained naturalisation certificate and fraudulently obtained Social Security card.
Three former guards who allegedly worked with Mr Mrndzic have already been convicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Prosecutors said he was interviewed by the UN’s tribunal after the Bosnian War and was then accused of participating in the war crimes carried out in the camp.
Mr Mrndzic allegedly fled the region to Croatia, where prosecutors say he took on a fake identity and presented himself as a refugee to gain entry to the US. He gained access in 1999 and was later granted citizenship, according to Radio Free Europe.
Prosecutors said Mr Mrndzic claimed he had been taken prisoner by Serb fighters and was afraid they would seek revenge on him if he was not granted refugee status.
“It is alleged that in his refugee application and interview, he falsely claimed that he fled his home after he was captured, interrogated and abused by Serb forces, and could not return home for fear of future persecution,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. “He was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee in 1999, and ultimately became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009.”
Mr Mrndzic made his first court appearance on Wednesday morning and was released on a $30,000 bond.
He faces up to 20 years in prison for the fraudulent passport and naturalisation charges — 10 years each — and up to five years in prison for the remaining charges, with three years of supervised release afterwards as well as a $250,000 fine.
Approximately 240 ethnic Serbs were imprisoned at Čelebići as part of the systemic ethnic cleansing of Serbian civilians by Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces.