A Massachusetts man was arrested on Wednesday over allegations that he was not the simple Swampscott man he purported to be but was instead a Bosnian war criminal in hiding.
Kemal Mrndzic, 50, from Swampscott, is accused of having manipulated the U.S. immigration system, masking his true identity as a monstrous prison camp boss and posing instead as a persecuted refugee.
“Mrndzic served as a supervisor of the guards at a notorious prison camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the sectarian war which fractured the country in the 1990s,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston said in a press release.
“The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found that guards at the Celebici prison camp had committed numerous murders, rapes, and had engaged in torture and other forms of persecution of Serb prisoners held at the camp,” the USAO said.
The charges leveled against him include falsifying, concealing, and covering up facts from the U.S. government; using a fraudulently obtained U.S. passport; and possessing and using fraudulently obtained naturalization and social security documents.
Federal prosecutors allege that during the bloody sectarian Bosnian conflict in the 1990s, Mrndzic was in charge of the guards at the notorious Celebici prison camp.
Several survivors have since identified Mrndzic as partaking in these horrific abuses.
After the war ended, Mrndzic cunningly devised an escape plan.
He is believed to have fled to Croatia, where he applied for U.S. refugee status with a fabricated story. He claimed to have been captured, interrogated, and abused by Serb forces and expressed fears of persecution if he were to return home.
Federal authorities allege that his tales of woe were nothing more than a ploy to divert attention from his own horrifying wartime conduct.
In 1999, Mrndzic was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee, and a decade later, he had become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Following his arrest, Mrndzic appeared in federal court in Boston before Chief Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley. He was released on a $30,000 cash bond. If found guilty, Mrndzic could face up to 10 years in prison for each of the passport and naturalization certificate fraud charges, and up to 5 years for each of the two remaining charges, along with hefty fines and supervised release.
The USAO has urged Celebici camp survivors and their family members to come forward with any information they might have about the operation of the camp.
The Boston USAO released the statement concerning Mrndziv on the same day U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, who participated in the case, said she would resign following a damning Department of Justice investigation into her own misconduct.