Bosnian Convicted Of Illegally Migrating
The government accused Pantic of leaving his involvement in the Zvornik Brigade of the Army of the Republic of Srpska off his immigration forms when asked about military service.
The Zvornik Brigade was responsible for the massacre of thousands of Muslims in July 1995.
Pantic maintained that he was not a soldier and that his duties only included tasks such as digging canals and splitting wood.
He now faces an uncertain future that goes well beyond whatever sentence he receives.
Pantic, who arrived in the United States with his wife and two children in 1997, will face a deportation process, said his attorney, Krispen Culbertson.
That could mean being separated from his family. Pantic’s son and daughter plan to stay here, Culbertson said.
“It was devastating to his family … that he wasn’t acquitted,” Culbertson said.
The Republic of Srpska was one of three factions involved in the Bosnian Civil War from 1992 to 1995.
Like the other men charged, Pantic said his family fled a part of Bosnia that was controlled by Muslims when the war broke out.
He testified that he was forced into service by Serb forces during the war but that he was not a soldier. Pantic said his job was initially to guard a village’s water supply, but he escaped to go back to
his family. He was arrested by Serb forces and then forced to split wood for the villagers. He said he never had a gun and never wore a uniform.
Culbertson said Sasa Pantic would have asked his father if he was unsure how to answer a question, but he had no reason to believe his father had served in the Zvornik Brigade.
The attorney said he plans to seek a quick sentencing, saying Pantic has already been in jail for several months, which could be longer than his possible sentence.
Pantic’s main concern now is being deported to Bosnia, where he also could face imprisonment, Culbertson said.
“He’s worried about his safety, and he’s worried about indefinite detention,” Culbertson said.
Two other High Point men who immigrated to the United States as refugees from Bosnia were charged with similar crimes.
Veselin Vidacak, 32, and Milivoje Jankovic, 41, were charged with two counts each of lying on federal immigration forms and two counts of lying to federal agencies.
Vidacak was convicted last week and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, although a shorter sentence is likely.