A Bosnian immigrant was convicted Wednesday on charges he concealed his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre so he could get into the United States but was acquitted of other charges.
Marko Boskic, 41, was working in construction when he was arrested on immigration fraud charges in August 2004. He was charged with lying on his refugee application and later on his application to become a permanent U.S. resident.
A federal grand jury found Boskic guilty of two charges he concealed his Bosnian Serb military record on his applications.
The panel acquitted Boskic on three other charges, including allegations that he lied when he initially concealed his military service during a 2004 interview with federal officials, and that he lied on immigration applications when he was asked if he had ever persecuted or killed anyone on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity or political beliefs.
Lawyer: Jury believed defendant was coerced
Boskic's lawyer, Max Stern, maintained that he had been a prisoner in a Bosnian Serb concentration camp who was threatened with death if he did not participate in the massacre. Stern said after the verdict that jurors believed Boskic did not act of his own free will in the massacre at Srebrenica on July 11, 1995.
"They totally accepted the fact that he was compelled to participate in the mass execution," Stern said.
Prosecutors said Boskic eventually acknowledged that he was a soldier in a Bosnian Serb military unit and helped execute 1,200 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, where some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed. It was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II.
Boskic faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on each of the two document-fraud charges when he is sentenced Oct. 24. He could face deportation to Bosnia-Herzegovina after he serves his sentence, said U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan.
"Obviously his defense was he did it under threat of death and it wasn't based on any ethnic cleansing," Sullivan said.
Not charged with war crimes
Boskic was not charged with war crimes. During his trial, the jury heard testimony from two survivors of the Srebrenica massacre who described in chilling detail how soldiers herded hundreds of Muslims in buses to a field, then lined them up in groups of 10 and shot them with automatic weapons. The survivors said they hid under bodies and eventually escaped.
Prosecutors said Boskic, a Croatian and a Roman Catholic, listed his compulsory military service with the Yugoslav army on his immigration forms but did not list his service with the 10th Sabotage Detachment, a notorious Bosnian Serb military unit that participated in the Srebrenica massacre.