September 1st, 2007 10:36 EST
Sioux Falls man extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina to serve murder sentence
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A local resident who entered the United States as a refugee in 2000 was extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina Sunday to serve a prison term for murder. This extradition resulted from the combined efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Dakota, and local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Samir Avdic, 40, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was turned over to Bosnian Police at JFK airport in New York on Aug. 26. He originally entered the United States as a refugee after claiming he had suffered persecution at the hands of Bosnian Serb officials, who he said forced him to sign a false confession.
In fact, Avdic was convicted of murder in 1998 in the District Court of Bijeljina, Republic of Srpska, within Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was sentenced to six years in prison. According to court documents, in August 1995 Avdic and another man plotted to kill a third man because they believed he was hiding salt from them. Avdic shot the man in the back with a shotgun, and he and the co-conspirator threw the body off a cliff into a ravine. When he was arrested, Avdic admitted to the crime and "precisely and logically" described it in detail to authorities. Avdic was represented by an attorney throughout court proceedings.
"ICE will not allow aliens who commit crimes in other countries to use the United States as a sanctuary," said Ken Baird, resident agent in charge ICE Office of Investigations in Sioux Falls. "ICE routinely works with our law enforcement partners locally, nationally and internationally to identify fugitive aliens who pose a threat to public safety."
"Communities win when we take violent criminals off the streets," said U.S. Attorney Marty J. Jackley, District of South Dakota. "Our office was pleased to help the many local, federal and international law enforcement officers who worked so hard to ensure justice was served."
The international police agency INTERPOL first contacted the ICE office in Sioux Falls in 2005, and explained that an arrest warrant had been issued for Avdic in Bosnia and Herzegovina in November 2000, following his murder conviction. ICE special agents, working with the Sioux Falls Police Department, determined Avdic lived in the area. INTERPOL coordinated issuing the formal extradition request through diplomatic channels. The request was relayed from the foreign government to the U.S. Department of State, then through the Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs, and ultimately to the local U.S. Attorney's office.
When the U.S Attorney's office in Sioux Falls received the formal extradition request in March 2007, ICE agents learned that Avdic had been arrested by Sioux Falls police officers and was being held in Minnehaha County Jail on charges of aggravated assault and reckless driving.
ICE worked with the U.S. Attorney's office to obtain a federal arrest warrant. Avdic was then transferred to U.S. Marshals Service custody March 22, and was charged by criminal complaint with being a fugitive from a foreign country. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Clapper, District of South Dakota, prosecuted the case.
On June 28, a U.S. district court judge in Sioux Falls certified to the Secretary of State that Avdic could be extradited.
-- ICE --