Arizona resident who lied about role in Bosnian war sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison

Nov 30, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: 8:06 pm

person crying at memorial honoring victims of Bosnian war...

At least 8,300 Bosnian Muslim men and boys who had sought safe heaven at the U.N.-protected enclave at Srebrenica were killed by members of the Republic of Serbia (Republika Srpska) army under the leadership of General Ratko Mladic, during the Bosnian war in 1995. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — An Arizona resident who lied about his role in the Bosnian War while trying to become a U.S. citizen was sentenced this week to nearly six years in federal prison, authorities said.

Sinisa Djurdjic, 50, a Tucson resident and citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was found guilty in May 2023 of visa fraud and two counts of attempted unlawful procurement of citizenship.

A federal judge sentenced Djurdjic on Tuesday to 70 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

Djurdjic emigrated to Tucson under the refugee program in 2000. He denied serving in foreign military and police units on various immigration applications, according to prosecutors.

However, Homeland Security Investigations launched an investigation in 2009 after learning that Djurdjic was a member of a police brigade that committed atrocities during the 1990s civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

What was Djurdjic’s role in the 1990s Bosnian War?

Prosecutors said Djurdjic was a prison guard for a Bosnian-Serb entity that espoused the idea of “ethnic cleansing.”

During Djurdjic’s nine-day trial, five Bosnian men testified that they suffered or witnessed abuse at his hands while they were held at prison camps.

“Our lives were ruined by people like Sinisa, but we manage to rebuild them and his conviction is one of the final bricks in our house of peace,” one of the victims said in his statement to the court.

Evidence presented at trial demonstrated Djurdjic was able to obtain refugee status and permanent residence for two decades by concealing and lying about his prior police and military service, prosecutors said.

The Tucson Office of Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case.

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Arizona resident who lied about role in Bosnian war sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison