Ohio man charged with immigration fraud over lying about war crimes

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors have charged an Ohio man with gaining residency in the United States by lying about war crimes he committed amid civil war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Jugoslav Vidic, 55, of Parma Heights, Ohio, was charged Thursday with one count of possessing a green card that was procured by means of materially false statements and one count of making false statements to a federal agent, the Justice Department said in a statement.


Prosecutors said Vidic, who immigrated to the United States from Croatia as a refugee in 1999, made multiple false statements in his application to become a lawful permanent resident, which was approved in 2005. He is also accused of then lying to law enforcement agents in 2017 when questioned about his application.

According to the Justice Department, Vidic left out of his lawful permanent resident application that he was a member of the Serb Army of Krajin and its predecessors in the early to mid-1990s, that in 1998 he had been convicted in absentia of committing a war crime in Croatia and that he had participated in killing a person because of ethnic origin or political opinion.


The indictment unsealed Thursday accuses Vidic of participating in an attack on ethnic Serb forces in September of 1991. During the attack, Vidic is accused of holding a Croatian civilian at gunpoint who had recently shaken hands with Croatia's then-President Franjo Tudjman.

"The victim was never seen alive again, and his body was later exhumed from a mass grave," the Justice Department said.

If convicted, Vidic faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the charge of possessing a green card by means of making false statements and a maximum fives years for the second charge of lying to law enforcement.

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According to the International Center for Transitional Justice, mass human rights violations were committed in states that declared independence from Yugoslavia starting in 1991, including Croatia.

More than 140,000 people were killed and some 4 million were displaced by the conflicts, it said.

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