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United States v. Yetisen

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

February 28, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SAMMY RASEMA YETISEN aka RASEMA HANDANOVIC aka ZOLJA, Defendant.

          Steven A. Platt Timothy M. Belsan U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, CIVIL DIVISION, Dianne Schweiner, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE-DISTRICT OF OREGON, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Sammy Rasema Yetisen Pro Se Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff United States of America (“the Government”) seeks to revoke Defendant Sammy Rasema Yetisen's naturalized United States of America (“U.S.”) citizenship. The Government alleges that Defendant committed war crimes in her native country, Bosnia, and then procured her U.S. citizenship illegally and by concealment or willful misrepresentation of material fact. The Government moves for judgment on the pleadings. The Court grants the Government's motion because it concludes that Defendant procured her citizenship illegally.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Defendant is a Bosnian Muslim. Compl. ¶ 11, ECF 1. She was born in 1972 in the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was then part of Yugoslavia. Id. at ¶ 8. In the early 1990s, some of Yugoslavia's republics began seceding, which triggered a series of ethnic-based conflicts. Id. at ¶ 14. Tension between Bosnian Muslims and predominantly Roman-Catholic Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina (“Bosnian Croats”) developed into an open conflict known as the Croat-Bosniak War. Id. at ¶ 19.

         In January 1993, Defendant joined a special-forces unit within the Supreme Command Staff of the Army of the Republic of BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) called the Zulfikar Special Purposes Detachment (“Zulfikar”), VJ5683. Id. at ¶¶ 22, 51. On April 16, 1993, Defendant and other members of Zulfikar attacked the village of Trusina, a village in what is now central Bosnia. Id. at ¶ 25. Defendant and other Zulfikar members targeted Bosnian Croats. ¶¶ 13, 29-30. They executed six Bosnian Croats, three prisoners of war and three civilians, by firing squad. Id. at ¶ 40. They killed sixteen other Bosnian Croats during what became known as the “Trusina massacre.” Id. at ¶ 43. In her Answer[2], Defendant states:

What the government says in its papers is not correct. They do not understand war. Yes I was in the civil war. I was 20 years old and a female in an army of men when we went into Trusina. The government writes like I was giving orders but I was not, I did what the commander told us to do.

         Answer, ECF 5.

         Less than three years after the Trusina massacre, Defendant sought refugee status at the U.S. embassy in Austria. Id. at ¶ 44. Defendant filed a Form I-590-Registration for Classification as a Refugee on October 31, 1995. Compl. Ex. C. On the form, Defendant sought refugee status based on persecution she faced due to being Muslim. Id. She wrote that she had “nowhere to return to in Bosnia.” Id. Defendant states, “I told them I was a solider in the Army and we talked all about it and they saw my condition and what war had done.” Answer. On the form, she stated that she had served in the Bosnian army from September 3, 1992 until May 12, 1995, in “branch and organization” VJ 5089. Id. She also wrote: “I fought for Bosnia in the Bosnian army, but when I was no longer able to do battle, I was demobilized and left without help, shelter, and worst of all, without food.” Id. She wrote: “I dismissed myself and went to Austria where I have no-one.” Id.

         On February 2, 1996, Defendant filled out a Form G-646, “Sworn Statement of Refugee Applying for Entry into the United States. Compl. Ex. D. Defendant indicated that she was not a part of “any of the following classes [that] are not admissible to the United States”: “Aliens who have committed or who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude[.]” Id. She also signed the form, thereby assenting to the following statement: “Further, I have never ordered, assisted or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, or political opinion.” Id. Defendant's refugee status was approved on May 2, 1996. Compl. Ex. C. She entered the United States as a refugee on May 15, 1996. Id.; Compl. ¶ 66.

         On June 6, 2001, Defendant applied for naturalization by filing a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Compl. Ex. E. Form N-400 required Defendant to mark a “yes” or “no” box next to several “additional eligibility factors.” Id. Defendant marked “no” in response to the following two questions:

(3) Have you at any time, anywhere, ever ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion?
(15)(a) Have you ever knowingly committed any crime for which you have not been arrested?

Id. Form N-400 also required Defendant to list her present and past membership with “any military service.” Id. Defendant wrote “none.” Id. Defendant signed her Form N-400, under penalty of perjury, attesting that the application was “true and correct.” Id. She signed the form again following her naturalization interview. Id. On May 23, 2002, Defendant was issued a Certificate of Naturalization. Compl. Ex. F.

         Over nine years later, this Court granted the Government's request for a certificate of extradibility, based on a Warrant of Arrest issued by the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, alleging that Defendant committed war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war. Id. at ¶¶ 90, 97. Magistrate Judge Stewart held that Defendant was extraditable on the alleged offenses that constituted first degree murder. In re Extradition of Handanovic, 829 ...


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