Man, Already Stripped of Citizenship, Extadited to Bosnia-Herzegovena to Face War Crimes Trial

A Michigan man is no longer on American soil after he was extradited back to his native Bosnia-Herzegovina to face 1994 war crimes, Newsweek has learned.

Last Friday, Alexander Kneginich, now 58, was flown back to the war-torn country after a federal judge, honoring a 2001 warrant from Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina, naming him as an abettor in the slayings of three Muslim men on the early morning of March 31, 1994, agreed to send him back, a Western District of Michigan federal court official confirmed.

In June, U.S. Magistrate Judge Phillip J. Green received input from the U.S. State Department to determine if Kneginich was “extraditable.”

Green determined he was and ruled to send him back, court records show.

The judge also relied on a 1902 treaty originally established with Yugoslavia; then after the state dissolved, it was inherited by Bosnia-Herzegovina as the successor state, to render his decision.

It doesn’t appear that Kneginich, who required an interpreter during his hearings, made any successful appeal of the extradition, based on court filings.

Kneginich had maintained significant ties to Michigan while also bouncing around from Indiana and California, records show.  

Last August, Kneginich was stripped of his citizenship when it was discovered he fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship in the same Grand Rapids federal court. He was convicted after it was determined that he attempted to cloak his questionable past—which included allegedly serving as a member of the Serbian militia during the 1990s Bosnian conflict. 

“He snuck into this country by fleeing charges that he is a murderer,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge wrote in a statement after it was confirmed the U.S. was moving ahead to send the wanted man back overseas. “This deceit cost Kneginich the U.S. citizenship he obtained by fraud, and the United States has honored its extradition treaty with his native country by sending Kneginich back to Bosnia-Herzegovina to face trial for the charges he was fleeing when he came here.”

Newsweek’s attempts to reach Kneginich’s federal public defender or any of his relatives were not immediately returned.

Kneginich stands accused of committing murder on the early morning of March 31,1994.

memorial A woman mourns over a relative’s grave at the Srebrenica–Potočari Memorial, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, on November 22, 2017. On September 1, Alexander Kneginich, now 58, was returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina, honoring a 2001 warrant naming him as an abettor in the slayings of three Muslim men on the early morning of March 31, 1994. DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

The accused along with three other alleged cohorts named in the original complaint and extradition documents as Djoko Dosen, Dusan Gagic and Mladen Popovic, allegedly as committing the fatal revenge killing.

All of the men were allegedly heated about what the documents describe as recent killings of “several Serbian police officers by Bosniak (predominantly Muslim) ‘Army of Bosnia and Herzogovina,’” and went off together to "scare the Turks," the documents state. (The documents note that the term Turks was a common slight used by Serbians to describe Muslims.)  

Gagic, according to the documents, told investigators that he was “so angry that he was willing to kill any male Muslims he came across.…”

The first Muslim they found was Rejhan Sikiric, who lived 300 meters from his home, the documents states.

Popovic allegedly accused Kneginich as being the instigator who told the men it was time to “go into action.”

But he believed they were going to kill a different couple with the surname “Dzafic,” the documents state. They did allegedly break into the home that they believed the Dzafic family lived but found only women were living there.

They were allegedly determined to kill men only. 

“Although two women were present [in the home], Gagic told the group to leave the women alone, and then they moved on to the Sikiric residence,” according to the documents.

The men allegedly had already armed themselves with guns and blades and “stabbed” Rejhan Skiric “several times” and then shot him “in the neck, thorax and thigh.” They also shot dead his wife, Razija, “in the stomach and thorax,” the original complaint reads.

When investigators arrived at the crime scene they found three “expended 7.62x39mm cartridge casings” that matched a rifle later pulled from Kneginich’s pal Gagic, according to the documents.

Gagic told investigators he stayed outside while Kneginich and Popovic allegedly “broke a window and entered the home,” the documents suggest. He later “heard shooting and screaming from inside the home” and fingered the blame to Kneginich and Popovich for having “shot at least one of the Sikirics.”

While being grilled by investigators, Dosen “saw Kneginich carry a television out of the residence, and claimed that he told Kneginich to return it,” according to the documents.

When investigators quizzed Kneginich about the murders, he only admitted to being with the three men after getting hot on the eve of a Serbian policemen’s funeral.

He claims that they attempted to “murder” a man with the last name “Dzafic,” but the home was empty and then “went to another home and broke in.”

However, Kneginich told authorities that he “did not harm anyone,” according to the documents. In fact, the accused claimed he was innocently idling in the garage and was merely an ear witness.

Kneginich, the documents note, “claimed that he was unarmed and remained outside in the garage, and heard shooting come from inside the residence.”

After the deadly gunshots, the accused Kneginich, the documents state, allegedly didn’t deny ripping off the television set.

“[Kneginich] claimed that he entered the house and stole a television set after the others came back out."

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