Thursday, 4:30 PM
Suspect in war crimes sentenced for immigration fraud
(AP Photo/Peabody Police)
Marko Boskic, in an undated police photo, was sentenced today to five years and three months in prison for immigration fraud.
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
A Bosnian national who participated in the 1995 massacre of 1,200 civilian Muslim men during the Bosnian War was sentenced today to five years and three months in prison for lying about his military service on US immigration forms.
Marko Boskic, 42, who had been living in Peabody and working as a construction worker before his arrest on Aug. 25, 2004, was found guilty of lying about his past military service on an applications for refugee status in Feb. 2000 and permanent residency in April 2001.
The jury acquitted him of three other charges, including allegations that he lied when he said he never ordered or participated in the persecution of anyone based on race, religion or political opinion.
Federal prosecutors argued in court that Boskic, an ethnic Croat and Roman Catholic, was a cold-blooded executioner who lied to gain entry to the United States. He admitted that he helped kill 1,200 Muslims during the infamous 1995 massacre at Branjevo Farm outside Srebrenica only after being confronted by FBI officials in 2004, prosecutors said.
The defense maintained that Boskic helped families flee the war and was then sent to a Bosnian Serb concentration camp and was forced to join the 10th Sabotage Detachment, an arm of the Serbian Army that participated in the mass murders. His lawyer, Max Stern, said Boskic was given a choice: kill the Muslims or be killed himself.
Prosecutors had urged the judge to sentence Boskic to more than 11 years, arguing that he should "send a clear message that the United States is not a safe haven for war criminals."
But US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said the government had chosen not to pursue federal torture charges against Boskic, and so it would be improper him to sentence Boskic for murder when he was convicted of immigration fraud.
"When you are confronted with as horrific a set of circumstances as here, one can get blinded by the glare, but the rule of law works for everyone," Woodlock said.
Government officials have said they will start deportation proceedings against Boskic after he serves his sentence.
Defense attorney Max Stern had argued that Boskic should only face a sentence of four to six months under federal sentencing guidelines, and that it was unfair to boost his prison term because of uncharged conduct that happened in a foreign country during wartime.
Assistant US Attorney Kimberly P. West told the judge that it's likely Boskic will evade prosecution for the 100 murders he personally committed as part of a team of eight soldiers who lined men up at Branjevo Farm and shot them. She said the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the Hague targeted commanders, rather than foot soldiers like Boskic. And she said the Bosnian War Tribunal has indicated it may not have the evidence to try Boskic because it would be unable to present confessions he made to US officials since he wasn't accompanied by a lawyer at the time.