Edin Sakoc, the Bosnian immigrant who could face deportation after a recent federal trial in Burlington, has asked for his case to be heard again in U.S. District Court.
Sakoc was convicted in January of lying to immigration authorities to gain U.S. citizenship. Prosecutors presented evidence they said implicated him in war crimes during the conflict in Bosnia, including a rape and murders. He denied any wrongdoing.
Sakoc is free while awaiting sentencing — and potentially deportation.
Now his lawyers argue that a verdict form filled out by jurors suggests they were not convinced that he committed the war crimes about which he was accused of lying. Instead, they say, jurors found Sakoc lied based on a prosecutor's assertion that he failed to disclose his participation in military and political organizations.
Those allegations, his lawyers said, came up only during the trial, meaning that Sakoc and his lawyers had no advance warning.
In their decision, jurors did not find Sakoc guilty of lying about whether he had "committed any crime," or "persecuted any person" despite testimony about the rape and murders. Rather, they said he was guilty simply of giving "false or misleading information" to immigration officials.
Federal public defenders filed the request for a new trial on Wednesday.
Since Sakoc's conviction, the New York Times revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched cases across the country involving suspected war crimes stemming from the bitter ethnic conflicts that gripped the Balkans in the 1990s.