Vermont man found guilty of lying about war gets new trial

AP News
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Posted: Jul 02, 2015 4:55 PM

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A man who was found guilty of lying about his participation in war crimes that occurred during the 1992 Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict will receive a new trial.

A federal judge ruled this week that prosecutors crossed the line with what they were allowed to bring up during the trial of Edin Sakoc, The Burlington Free Press reported (http://bfpne.ws/1CNAyPx).

Sakoc, a Bosnian Muslim who arrived in the United States in 2001, was accused of lying on his citizenship application about his role in a rape and two killings in 1992.

The judge said prosecutors made false statements not included in Sakoc's indictment or any of the government's statements. His ruling said the prosecution's comments effectively tried Sakoc, who has been living in Burlington, for crimes not in the indictment.

During January's trial, Sakoc's attorneys argued the war crimes were committed by a Bosnian Croat army commander and their client could not be held accountable despite knowing about the killings.

If Sakoc had been aware of the other allegations, the judge wrote, "he might have chosen a different trial strategy."

"Permitting the government to potentially convict Mr. Sakoc based on its last-minute theories thrown in for good measure but previously unknown to Mr. Sakoc and his counsel would be manifestly unjust," the judge said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles said her office is reviewing the judge's ruling with the Department of Justice.

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Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com