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Trial starts for Serb accused of lying to get green card
By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published November 28, 2007
TAMPA - Convincing a jury that Serbian immigrantslied on green card applications to get permanent residency in the United States hasn't been easy for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors in Tampa are 0-2 in seeking convictions at trial.
The government dropped charges against one man after two juries deadlocked. Another man was acquitted. Now the U.S. Attorney's Office is trying again for a win in court.
On Tuesday, opening statements began in the federal trial against Strahinja Krsmanovic, the last of the Serbian immigrants to fight the charges in court.
Prosecutors accused the men, who now live in St. Petersburg, of lying about their involvement in the Vojska Republike Srpske, or the Army of the Serb Republic.
In all, 15 local men were charged with denying they had been in the Serbian military during a civil war from 1992-95 that tore apart the former Yugoslavia. Prosecutors say they were connected to or knew about war crimes that occurred, though the men aren't charged with direct participation.
Krsmanovic has never denied that he served in the Army of the Serb Republic, defense attorney John Pavich told jurors Tuesday. He said their verdict should hinge on the question Krsmanovic was asked about his military service.
Prosecutors said Krsmanovic wrote "none" on immigration forms when told to list foreign military service, but Pavich said he would have answered the questions through a translator and "there will be no evidence that the question was adequately translated."