Sinisa Djurdjic, 50, of Tucson, Arizona, was convicted on May 19, 2023, by a federal jury on charges of Visa Fraud and Attempted Unlawful Procurement of Citizenship. The guilty verdicts came after a nine-day jury trial before United States District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps.
In 2009, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched an investigation upon receiving a roster of a police brigade suspected of various atrocities during the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (“Bosnia”) that identified one of the members of that brigade as Sinisa Djurdjic, who emigrated to Tucson under the United States refugee program in 2000. HSI discovered that, on various United States immigration applications, Djurdjic had denied serving in foreign military and police units. The multi-year international investigation by HSI confirmed that Djurdjic was indeed a member of that police brigade and other Bosnian-Serb military units, and that Djurdjic harmed prisoners in his custody.
HSI agents traveled to Bosnia on multiple occasions, interviewed dozens of witnesses, and collected documentation from the Bosnian government, the Serbian government, and from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Agents discovered that Djurdjic was a prison guard at two prison camps established north of Sarajevo by “Republika Srpska,” the Bosnian-Serb entity which espoused the idea of “ethnic cleansing” during the civil war and sought to exclude all Bosnian Muslims and Catholic Croats from certain areas within Bosnia.
During the trial, five Bosnian men who were held at the prison camps testified as to the abuses they suffered or witnessed at the hands of Djurdjic. The United States presented extensive documentation demonstrating that Djurdjic had lied on various immigration applications about his previous military and police service, and had intentionally misled United States immigration officials about his past to gain legal status in the United States.
“We commend the courage and tenacity of the Bosnians who testified against the defendant and held him accountable for his false statements while seeking legal status in the United States,” said United States Attorney Gary Restaino. “Providing opportunities for refugees and asylees is quintessentially American. Safeguarding those opportunities requires vigilance to ensure that the American dream is foreclosed to those who lie about a disqualifying past.”
“When a person attempts to become a U.S. citizen under false pretenses, it jeopardizes our naturalization process — and it is especially damaging to those who faithfully follow the judicial system,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge for HSI Arizona. “Simply put, those who knowingly and willfully misrepresent themselves, especially those who are considered national security threats, war criminals and human rights violators, to try and obtain U.S. citizenship status, will be held accountable for their deceitful actions. This defendant was found guilty due to the unwavering commitment by those who investigated and are prosecuting this case.”
Djurdjic’s sentencing hearing is set for August 8, 2023.
Homeland Security Investigations, Tucson Field Office, conducted the investigation in this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Liza Granoff and Kevin Schiff, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.