A former Bosnian prison camp guard living in the U.S. is eligible for extradition to his native country to face war-crimes charges, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
Breaking fingers so they could never cross themselves again – American citizen, Croatian forces member, Bosnian Muslim sadist Almaz Nezirovic
The charge states that “Nezirović, then member of the neoustashi Croatian Defence Council (HVO), while worked as a guard at Rabic, death camp for Serbs, in Derventa 1992, abused, intentionally inflicting great pain and severely mutilated Serbian civilians”
After the war he went to the United States, where he worked as a welder and a football coach. Years ago, the US Immigration Commission went to Doboj and examined several inmates who testified about the atrocities committed by Nezirović, after which he was arrested.
The Chairman of the Association of Derventa POW, Drago Knezevic described that Nezirević used to line up the prisoners, forcing them to put three fingers on the table (Orthodox Serbs cross themselves with three fingers)
,,He hit with baton prisoner’s fingers so that we ‘couldn’t cross ourselves”
“Nezirovic forced the prisoners to strip naked and then hit and kicked their genitals. He didn’t stop even though his victims were all in blood and consciousness – He was especially cruel to ex – colleagues from the “Unis” factory.”
He was sadistically cruel. Nezirovic tortured and abused his Serbian colleague Milenko Gunjevic physically and mentally, sadistically desribing him how they had raped his wife, who was also imprisoned in the camp. Later Milenko was sent as a human shield to the front lines to dig trenches. That’s where poor Gunjević died.”
The official statement says that Almaz Nezirovic of Roanoke County, Virginia, is accused of torturing Serbians at the Rabic prison camp in 1992 during the civil war in the region of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nezirovic beat, humiliated and traumatized unarmed civilian prisoners.
A judge in Bosnia-Herzegovina issued a warrant for Nezirovic’s arrest in 2003, six years after the defendant entered the U.S. as a refugee.
In 2013, a federal magistrate found sufficient evidence supporting the allegations and certified Nezirovic as eligible for extradition, pending approval of the U.S. State Department. A district judge let that ruling stand. The appeals court ruling followed.
The court rejected Nezirovic’s claim that he could not be extradited because too many years have passed since the alleged crimes occurred. It also found no merit in his claim that his extradition was barred because his actions were political.
“The torture of prisoners cannot be justified on the basis that such torture has occurred in the context of a political disturbance,” Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote for the appeals court.
Neither Nezirovic’s attorney nor the U.S. attorney’s office for Virginia’s western district immediately responded to messages seeking comment on the ruling.
According to court papers, in 1992 Nezirovic joined a paramilitary group, the HVO, and became a prison guard. The HVO, or Croatian Defense Council, was formed by the Bosnian Croats as they sought to form their own breakaway republic during the war and it was allied with Bosnia’s Muslim-dominated government.
Bosnian authorities allege that Nezirovic beat civilian detainees with a baton and a rifle and forced some prisoners to crawl on the ground naked and eat grass on which others had urinated.
Nezirovic also was charged in federal court with concealing his wartime activities when applying for refugee status and naturalization in the United States. That case was dropped last year because of Nezirovic’s likely extradition.