Barberton residents likely had no idea their neighbor was a suspected war criminal before he was indicted in federal court on Thursday.
Officials with Homeland Security Investigations claim Oliver Dragic, 41, was an active player in the Srebrenica massacre and was a paramilitary police officer with the Republika Srpska during the Bosnian War.
According to the indictment, Dragic volunteered for a unit which, in July of 1995, was charged with sweeping the Bosnian wilderness surrounding the site of the Srebrenica massacre to prevent victims from fleeing.
Dragic was active with Republika Srpska police until November of 1998, although he applied for refugee status in the U.S. May of that year. On his application, Dragic claimed he was a victim of the Bosnian war.
Republika Srpska was an internationally unrecognized rogue state that aimed to create an ethnically pure Serbian nation within the territory of the Yugoslav Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The massacre in the town of Srebrenica killed an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, according to historians with the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Among the charges levied against Dragic are possession of a fraudulently obtained green card, attempting to procure naturalization contrary to law and attempting to procure naturalizing to which he was not entitled. Officals say Dragic failed to disclose his roles in the Srebrenica genocide and with the Republika Srpska when applying for refugee status.
“The United States stands as a beacon for those fleeing oppression and atrocities, not those who committed them,” Carole Rendon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio said. “This defendant lied about his involvement in a horrific war crime and will be held accountable for those lies.”
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact HIS by calling the toll-free tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also email HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov.