NEDJO IKONIC SENTENCED TO 1 YEAR IN PRISON (UPDATE)
- Participated in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide (background)
- Convicted for lying on U.S. immigration forms
- Still faces deportation hearings that could send him to Bosnia
- Bosnian prosecutors want Ikonic tried for Srebrenica genocide
During the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, Bosnian Serb army - with the logistical support of Serbia - summarily executed at least 8,372 Bosniak men, children, and elderly, and forcibly deported 25,000 people in a U.N. assisted ethnic cleansing.
During the war, Ikonic commanded a police unit near Srebrenica during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. According to the warrant, he and the second man, Dejan Radojkovic of Las Vegas, carried out attacks on civilians. After the war, Ikonic went into hiding to avoid arrest. Like many Serb war criminals, he found a safe haven in the United States. He settled in Greenfield, the Milwaukee area, and thought nobody would question him about his past. But, he was wrong.
Bosnian prosecutors who want to try Ikonic for genocide in front of a panel of international judges under the jurisdiction of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The deportation procedure is under the jurisdiction of a federal agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Now that a court has established that Ikonic obtained his immigration status by lying, his deportation is more or less automatic and will probably be determined by an ICE administrative procedure (i.e. it will not require a judge's order).
"Ikonic was arrested in 2006 and pleaded guilty in September to lying on an immigration form he filled out when trying to come to the United States in 2002... He was arrested in December 2006 as part of a nationwide sweep to find soldiers involved in the massacre at Srebrenica," reported John Diedrich for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Sanders said that Ikonic lied to hide his role in the Srebrenica genocide - the worst case of genocide in Europe since World War II. "Mr. Ikonic commanded a company that was at the epicenter of all the atrocities there. He was virtually in the eye of the storm," said prosecutor Sanders. "Ikonic started trying to get out of Bosnia in 2002 because he saw others involved in the massacre being arrested. First, he tried to go to Canada but was rejected. Then he filled out the U.S. forms, lying about his role."
"Adelman said it seemed likely to him that Ikonic and his unit played some role in at least facilitating the massacre at Srebrenica. But he said it was not his job to determine if Ikonic had committed war crimes, and he wasn't making that finding," reported Diedrich. "Adelman said the fact that Ikonic said he was persecuted when he may have been the one persecuting people, made this a more serious immigration case and warranted the longer sentence."
According to Newsday reporter Matthew McAllester, UN investigators believe men under the command of Nedjo Ikonic helped separate "over 1,000 Bosnian Muslim men from the women and children and transported these men to temporary detention sites in Bratunac on 12 and 13 July 1995." Bosniak prisoners were tortured and killed at these sites in the town of Bratunac; most were kept there before being taken to other places to be executed. People under Ikonic's command also articipated in the separation of men from women before at least 24 men and six women were the victims of "opportunistic killings" in the village of Potocari. Ikonic's men "were present at the [Kravica] Warehouse when the executions started and [they also] participated in the killings." More than 1,000 Bosniak men were shot dead in this episode on July 13. Additionally, men under his command summarily executed "a group of 10 to 15 Bosnian Muslim prisoners held in custody at Sandici meadow" on the evening of July 13.
Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB) reported on its web site that "Nedjo Ikonic is mentioned in several documents and testimonies issued by the Hague Tribunal. These documents include the indictment against Drago Nikolic, which alleges that Nedjo was commander of the Second Special Police Squad from Mount Jahorina, which it is believed participated in the separation of male civilians from women and children at Srebrenica, as well as in capturing and killing them. Witnesses in the trial of Nikolic et al, mentioned Ikonic as being one of the policemen who took part in the separation of the civilians. The special police unit under Ikonic’s command - which the U.S. Immigration Department claims that in July 1995 was legally subordinate to the Bosnian Serb army - also took part in a road block operation as part of the subsequent sweep of the terrain around Srebrenica in which large numbers of men were taken prisoner and then summarily executed. Ikonic has acknowledged being present there over a period of a week."