BURLINGTON, VT.: A Bosnian immigrant living in Vermont’s largest city pleaded not guilty Friday to lying to immigration authorities by denying involvement in war crimes in Bosnia two decades ago.
Prosecutors allege Edin Sakoc, 54, was involved in war crimes against a civilian Bosnian Serb family in 1992. An indictment says he raped a Serb woman and aided in the killing of the two elderly people she was caring for and the burning of the house in which they were staying.
Sakoc appeared Friday in U.S. District Court in Burlington, where he was ordered to surrender his passport because he was deemed a flight risk.
Judge Christina Reiss asked Sakoc whether he had reviewed the case with his attorney. Through the interpreter, he said yes, but that “we did not talk about everything.”
Authorities said Sakoc lied when he applied for refugee status and later for permanent residency and then citizenship in the United States by denying any past crimes of persecution.
Sakoc is a Bosnian Muslim and his alleged victims were Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serbs. Between 1993 and 2004, 1,705 Bosnians were resettled in Vermont, although it’s unclear how many remain today.