Woman Fighting Extradition in Lexington, KY to Face Alleged War Crimes in Bosnia

July 11, 2011

An attorney for a Croatian woman accused of committing war crimes in Bosnia told a federal judge Friday in Lexington that she should be allowed to stay in the U.S. instead of facing charges in Europe.

Azra Basic is accused of torturing prisoners after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. U.S. officials want the 52-year-old woman extradited to Bosnia to face charges of murder and torture.

But a long list of international issues stand in the way of extradition, including the absence of a treaty between Bosnia and the U.S., and whether the statute of limitations has expired on the alleged crimes, her attorney, Patrick Nash, argued Wednesday. Basic (pronounced bah’-sich) is also a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Nash said that complicates things.

According to court documents, Basic is charged with fatally stabbing a prisoner in the neck in 1992 during the conflict in Eastern Europe, along with other atrocities.

She appeared in court Wednesday in a grey jumpsuit with handcuffs on her wrists and shackles around her ankles. Basic spoke only privately to Nash during the hearing and waved to a couple as she was leaving after the proceedings.

Many people who know Basic say she was friendly and lived a peaceful life in Kentucky. The woman known locally as “Issabella” in Stanton took jobs in a nursing home and also worked at a food factory.

“I’d say she’s probably terrified of being sent back,” said Edith Fultz, who lives in Cynthiana and met Basic through her sister-in-law. Fultz and her husband have been visiting Basic in jail weekly and said they believe Basic was trying to survive in the middle of a bloody war.

“A lot of people kill people in a war because they have to,” Fultz said outside the courtroom Wednesday. “She did not commit the things they are saying.”

More than 100,000 people were killed in the ethnic war that followed Yugoslavia’s collapse, most of them Muslim Bosnians.

Fultz said Basic came here as a refugee and was not hiding out in Kentucky.

“She told us if she was trying to hide, she wouldn’t have come here,” Fultz said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Weir said he would rule on the arguments at a later date. Basic’s extradition hearing is set for Aug. 22.

The majority of this article was written by Dylan Lovan and published by the Associated Press on July 8, 2011.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Judge Hears Arguments in Azra Bašic’s Extradition Case For Alleged War Crimes

July 10, 2011

Kentucky.com on July 9, 2011 released the following:

“By Greg Kocher

A U.S. magistrate judge heard oral arguments Friday concerning the extradition of a woman wanted by authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina for alleged war crimes against civilians.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier made no decision except to change a scheduled Aug. 22 extradition hearing in U.S. District Court in Lexington to a status conference. No new date was scheduled for that extradition hearing.

The woman, whom authorities refer to as Azra Bašic, was arrested in March in Powell County, where she had been living for some time. She is accused of torturing and murdering ethnic Serbs at prison camps from April to June 1992, during the Bosnian civil war.

Bašic, a naturalized U.S. citizen, sat silently as her attorney, Patrick Nash, argued that the extradition petition against her should be dismissed because there is no formal treaty regarding extradition between the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, a 1902 treaty between Serbia and the United States prohibits extradition of U.S. citizens.

In addition, Nash argued that Bašic cannot be extradited because the statute of limitations ran out. Finally, Nash said extradition cannot proceed because Bosnia and Herzegovina have not produced a valid warrant.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart said an extradition treaty is in force between the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he submitted an affidavit from a legal adviser with the U.S. State Department that said an extradition treaty is in force. Arehart also countered that Congress granted authority to the U.S. secretary of state to extradite U.S. citizens.

Arehart’s written response to Nash’s motion to dismiss notes that U.S. district courts around the country have found at least four other people to be extraditable to Bosnia and Herzegovina on the basis of an extradition treaty.

Arehart also argued that the extradition request satisfies the treaty requirements regarding statute of limitations. And the request from Bosnia and Herzegovina more than satisfies any warrant requirement, Arehart argued.

Before the hearing began, Wier said the case is like an onion in many respects, because there are so many layers to it.

Wier wants to know about more layers, too. He asked the lawyers to submit written briefs on the legal effect of charging someone whose name isn’t known. In the initial charges issued against her in 1993, Bašic wasn’t fully identified, and the international warrant for her arrest wasn’t issued until 2006.

In addition, Wier wants to know whether U.S. torture laws can be applied retroactively to conduct that allegedly happened before the laws were enacted.”

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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