Federal appeals court affirms possible extradition of former Bosnian prison guard

Federal appeals court affirms possible extradition of former Bosnian prison guard

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] a district court’s ruling that former Bosnian guard Almaz Nezirovic is subject to extradition to his home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), after allegations that Nezirovic is responsible for war-crimes committed during the Yugoslavia civil war. A judge in BiH issued a warrant for Nezirovic’s arrest in 2003, six years after Nezirovic entered the US, accusing the former prison guard of beating and torturing Serbians at the Rabic prison in 1992. In 2012 Bosnian authorities made a request to the US Department of State [official website] for Nezirovic’s extradition. The court rejected Nezirovic’s argument that he could not be extradited because too many years had passed since the alleged crimes occurred. The court also rejected his claim that he could not be extradited because his actions were political. The court’s ruling does not mean that Nezirovic is guilty of the allegations, but rather those allegations will be heard in a court in his home country.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] and the Balkan States continue to prosecute those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced. The International Court of Justice [official website] ruled in February that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against one another’s citizens during the 1990s wars that erupted after the division of Yugoslavia. In January the ICTY upheld [JURIST report] the genocide convictions of two Bosnian Serbs during the 1995 Srebenica massacre. In July a Dutch court found the government responsible for 300 deaths [JURIST report] in the Srebrenica massacre. In January 2014 the appeals chamber for the ICTY upheld [JURIST report] the criminal convictions of four Serbian senior officials stemming from the Bosnian Civil War [JURIST news archive]. The ICTY was created [text, PDF] in 1993 by UN Resolution 827 to adjudicate the alleged war crimes perpetrated in the region of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.