Prosecutors here say a construction worker who lives in a suburb north of Boston was part of a military unit that executed hundreds of Muslim civilians in the former Yugoslavia during the conflict there in the 1990s.
Marko Boskic was arrested Wednesday at his home in Peabody, Mass., according to the office of U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan. He was charged Thursday with two counts of making false statements on immigration forms to conceal his membership in the 10th Sabotage Detachment, a Serb military unit that carried out the slaughter near the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 for each count. He also could be deported.
"Lying to gain safe harbor in the United States undermines the integrity of our immigration policies and will not be tolerated," Sullivan said in a statement. "We continue to aggressively pursue this investigation both here and abroad."
The Boston Globe reported Friday that Boskic is believed to be one of eight men who carried out orders to kill 1,200 unarmed men and boys near the village of Pilica, part of a wave of violence that claimed some 8,000 lives in just over a week. It is considered the largest-scale massacre of civilians in Europe since World War II.
But a spokeswoman for Sullivan's office said that so far Boskic, a 40-year-old Bosnian Croat, had not been identified as one of the killers.
According to an affidavit submitted by a federal investigator, Boskic entered the United States from Germany in April 2000 after seeking refugee status by claiming he had avoided military service.
"I didn't want to fight in an ethnic war against people I lived with," he wrote on an immigration form, according to the affidavit.
A soldier from the 10th Sabotage Detachment identified Boskic in a video of an awards ceremony for the unit. The video was provided by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a U.N. organization that prosecutes war crimes, according to the affidavit.
Boskic's name came up last year during the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, when Drazen Erdemovic, who pleaded guilty to involvement in the killings at Pilica, identified Boskic as a participant.
Boskic's attorney, Max D. Stern, of Boston, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Since arriving in the United States, Boskic has had several brushes with law enforcement, including arrests for assault and drunken driving.
Arthur Liaperdos, who lives next door to Boskic, called him "unfriendly" and said he often heard Boskic fighting with a girlfriend and saw him pushing her.