Washington man, Oregon woman arrested over Bosnian war crimes

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 13, 2011 10:23 PM
Washington man, Oregon woman arrested over Bosnian war crimes

By Laura Myers and Teresa Carson

SEATTLE/PORTLAND (Reuters) - A Washington state man and an Oregon woman were arrested on Wednesday at the request of officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to face accusations they committed war crimes there 18 years ago.

Edin Dzeko, 39, and Rasema Handanovic, 38, were members of the Bosnian army's special unit "Zulfikar," according to papers filed in federal court.

On April 16, 1993, the unit attacked Trusina village and killed more than a dozen Croat civilians and prisoners of war, and wounded four civilians including two infants, according to the extradition request.

Dzeko became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2006 after coming here in 2001 and has lived in Everett, Washington. The extradition request describes him as a former senior staff member of the Bosnian army unit.

During the village attack he allegedly threw a man into the yard of a house, then shot and killed him, according to U.S. authorities.

When the dead man's wife would not stop grieving, Dzeko allegedly shot her in the head and killed her.

Handanovic, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2002, was living in the Portland suburb of Beaverton.

U.S. authorities coordinated Handanovic's arrest in Oregon with their arrest of Dzeko, and both individuals are named in the same court papers.

During the attack on Trusina, Handanovic shot a civilian woman two or three times in the chest, killing her, and shot an elderly couple, according to the extradition request.

Both Dzeko and Handanovic are accused of having joined a firing squad-style execution that day of unarmed Croatian solders and civilians.

In Bosnia, the charges against Dzeko and Handanovic are punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, U.S. officials said.

The killings occurred during a 1993-94 war between Bosnian Muslims and Croats, which was ended by a Washington-brokered peace agreement.

A Bosnian state war crimes court was set up in 2005 to try thousands of war crimes suspects from that time period and take over mid- and low-ranking cases from the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jerry Norton)