Man suspected of Bosnian war crimes pleads guilty in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A man who was accused of hiding his employment with a special Serbian police unit in Bosnia around the time of the Serb massacre of 8,000 Muslim Bosnians during the 1995 genocide has pleaded guilty to a U.S. immigration fraud charge.

The U.S. government accused Oliver Dragic, who has been living in Barberton, in suburban Akron, of immigration fraud in a three-count federal indictment last year.

Dragic pleaded guilty on Thursday before U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster to possessing and using fraudulently obtained immigration documents. He was sentenced to time served in jail since his arrest in August 2016 and was ordered deported, with a sentencing date in March.

Though Dragic claimed to be a refugee, he served in a paramilitary force during the war in the former Yugoslavia, said Justin Herdman, the Cleveland-based U.S. attorney for the northern half of Ohio.

Dragic is pleased with the outcome of his case, said his attorney, Darin Thompson.

"He looks forward to re-establishing life for himself and mother in his home country of Bosnia," said Thompson, a federal public defender.

Dragic made false statements on forms about his role in ethnic cleansing in Bosnia while applying for refugee status in the U.S., prosecutors alleged in an updated indictment earlier this year.

Dragic, 42, moved to Serbian-controlled Bosnia in 1994 after graduating from a police training school, according to the indictment. His unit was involved in combat, "including during the broader Srebrenica operations," and afterward attended an elite training school, the indictment said.

He applied for refugee status in the U.S. in 1998, saying he was a victim of the war in Bosnia. He lied by saying he had never worked and by saying he fled Bosnia in 1992, the indictment said.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.

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