A Bosnian immigrant has been sentenced to one year federal probation for failing to disclose on his U.S. visa application that he was involved with a military group tied to the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995.

Branko Ristic was charged with two other men on counts of visa fraud for failing to disclose their affiliation with the Army of the Republica Srpska, or the Vojsak Republica Srpska. A war-crimes inquiry found that members of the group participated in human-rights violations, including the massacre of thousands of Bosnian boys and men. The Srebrenica incident has been classified as genocide by the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Military records from the group show that although Ristic was a member, he never engaged in any fighting. In court Monday, Ristic's attorney, L. Clark Donaldson, said misinformation has trickled across to Europe and that Web sites have incorrectly reported his client had agreed to help war-crimes investigations. Donaldson said in court that Ristic's family members back in his home country have received threats due to the reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball accepted the government's recommendation to sentence Ristic on the low end of the federal guidelines and placed Ristic on one year probation. As for any potential for deportation, Kimball said that will be left up to federal immigration officials.

Attorneys for the men said they were all victims of bad advice from friends, who suggested they keep that information out of their visa application out of concern they would be rejected. The irony, attorneys say, is that because of their small roles played in the group, they would have likely been granted visas anyway.


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