Convicted by a Croatiancourt and arrested in the USA
Refugee to fight return to Croatia
By The Associated Press
SIOUX FALLS A Croatian Serb refugee arrested in Sioux Falls on a warrant accusing him of war crimes will fight deportation, his lawyer says.
"He is completely innocent," Dusan Vucicevic, a lawyer for Mitar Arambasic, said. "He was tried in absentia. Courts of the United States should not give it any credence."
Arambasic was convicted by a Croatian court that relied on testimony from another Serbian prisoner who had been beaten and tortured, Vucicevic said.
He said he will argue Arambasic's case in Immigration Court in Bloomington, Minn., later this month.
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service officials arrested Arambasic Sept. 5, when he tried to renew a work permit.
He had worked at Sioux Falls Transit for 11 months.
The renewal of the work permit triggered an extra check put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the INS said. Reports surfaced that Arambasic had been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The charges involved "being in the area when two police officers were killed" and looting, Vucicevic said. Arambasic was out of the region before his trial was held in 1997, the Illinois lawyer said.
Arambasic, his wife and two children entered the United States as refugees in 2000. His wife and children remain in Sioux Falls.
The Minneapolis branch of the INS has accused Arambasic of violating U.S. immigration law by failing to report his war-crime conviction when he entered the United States.
Vucicevic said Arambasic was convicted by a biased Croatian court. He said he will ask the immigration judge to release Arambasic and require the INS to investigate the objectivity of those proceedings before acting on deportation.
Mayor Dave Munson said he didn't know about the Arambasic case until he read about it in Sunday's Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
The INS "should have notified somebody," he said. "That's unfortunate. We should all be working together and informing each other. There's got to be a two-way communication on these things."