MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man found guilty of lying about his participation in Bosnian war crimes in 1992, but later granted a new trial, agreed Wednesday to give up his U.S. citizenship and leave the country.
If Edin Sakoc complies with his promises, prosecutors will dismiss the criminal charges against him that could have sent him to prison for up to 10 years, the government stipulated in a U.S. District Court filing in Burlington.
Sakoc, 56, was given a minimum of 45 days before the formal hearing to strip him of his citizenship so that he can make arrangements to leave the United States. The agreement expressly says the citizenship of Sakoc's wife, Fata Sakoc, is not affected by the agreement.
"It's our belief that a fair resolution has been reached," said Eugenia Cowles, lead federal prosecutor in the case. "Mr. Sakoc will be surrendering his U.S. citizenship and departing the country."
Sakoc's attorney David McColgin had no comment.
Sakoc is a Bosnian Muslim. He moved to Vermont in 2001, became a legal resident of the United States in 2004 and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in June 2007.
In 2013, he was charged with lying about his role in the Bosnian civil war when he applied for citizenship. Prosecutors alleged Sakoc raped an Orthodox Christian woman in the town of Pocitelj and aided in the killings of two elderly women in her Bosnian Serb family in July 1992
During Sakoc's trial, his attorneys said the crimes were committed by a powerful Bosnian Croat army commander and Sakoc couldn't be held accountable for the actions of another, even though he was aware of the killings after they took place. His attorneys also said the stories of some witnesses in the case were inconsistent and the woman who said she was raped changed her story over the years about whether she was assaulted.
In January, Sakoc was found guilty of lying, but a federal judge ordered a new trial last summer on grounds that prosecutors made statements not included in Sakoc's indictment, effectively trying him for crimes that he was not charged with committing.