A Forest Lake man was arrested Wednesday after being indicted on immigration fraud charges for hiding war crimes he reportedly committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the conflict there in the 1990s.
Zdenko Jakiša, 45, made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court on Wednesday and is scheduled for a detention hearing on May 12, according to information released by federal officials.
According to the April 21 indictment that was unsealed Wednesday, Jakiša, a former member of the armed forces of the Croatian Defense Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina, provided false and fraudulent information about his military service during the Bosnian conflict, his criminal record in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and his commission of crimes of moral turpitude.
Records from Bosnia and Bosnian witnesses indicate that Jakiša committed numerous crimes, including killing an elderly Bosnian Serb woman, and kidnapping, robbing and assaulting a Bosnian Muslim man in September 1993. Federal officials said he did not disclose that information in his refugee or green-card applications.
The Bosnian conflict is considered to be the site of the worst genocide in Europe since World War II. Tens of thousands of people were killed and more than 2 million people were displaced after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Since 2001 in Minnesota, Jakiša has been convicted of numerous misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, including drunken driving and disorderly conduct.
The federal investigation was led by U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations in St. Paul and the FBI’s Minneapolis field office. The officials were helped with their investigation by officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Since 2004, ICE has arrested more than 290 individuals for human-rights-related violations and obtained deportation orders and physically removed from the United States more than 650 known or suspected human rights violators, according to federal officials.
Mary Lynn Smith