Not-guilty plea in Bosnia fraud case

Published 9:19am Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man pleaded not guilty Monday to allegations that he entered the U.S. under false pretenses by concealing his military service and concealing crimes committed during the Bosnian war in the 1990s.

Zdenko Jakisa, 45, of Forest Lake, is charged with one count of possessing unlawfully obtained documents. He was allowed to be released Monday with conditions as his case proceeds in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

A federal indictment unsealed last week said Jakisa obtained his permanent resident card illegally when he didn’t disclose that he had served in the armed forces of the Croatian Defense Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina, that he had been arrested for breaking the law in Bosnia, and that he had “committed crimes of moral turpitude.”

Michael Plotnick, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, testified Monday that Jakisa’s entry into the U.S. as a refugee from Bosnia in 1998, and his status as a legal resident, would have been impacted if he had been truthful about his past. Jakisa became a lawful permanent resident in 2002.

Authorities in Bosnia say he is wanted for questioning in an investigation into war crimes there. The prosecution office in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, told The Associated Press that Jakisa is suspected of “war crimes against civilians,” and is one of several people under investigation. Mostar prosecutors did not provide details.