U.S. officials have identified about 300 Bosnian immigrants who they believe concealed their involvement in wartime atrocities, including the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, and are trying to deport at least 150 of them, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
The immigrants were among refugees fleeing the violence in Bosnia after a war that erupted in 1992 with the collapse of Yugoslavia. The number of suspects could eventually be more than 600 as more records from Bosnia become available, the newspaper reported.
"The more we dig, the more documents we find," Immigration and Customs Enforcement historian Michael MacQueen, who has led many of the agency's war crimes investigations, told the Times.
Many of the Bosnian suspects were former soldiers, and they include a Virginia soccer coach, an Ohio metal worker and four Las Vegas hotel casino workers, the newspaper said. Some are now U.S. citizens, it said.
The Times said evidence indicates that half the 300 Bosnian suspects may have played a part in the massacre at Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in five summer days in 1995, towards the end of a war that claimed 100,000 lives.
The massacre was the culmination of a policy of ethnic cleansing by Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic's forces to carve a pure Serb state out of communally diverse Bosnia.
Lawyer Thomas M. Hoidal represented two of 12 Bosnian Serbs in Arizona who face deportation over war crimes. "It's guilt by association,” he told the Times.
The Bosnian war ended in a 1995 U.S.-brokered peace deal. A United Nations tribunal subsequently ruled that genocide was committed in Bosnia.