OTTAWA — Canada is moving to strip citizenship from a man accused of committing crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia.
The federal government alleges Cedo Kljajic fraudulently obtained Canadian citizenship by concealing his key role in the creation and operation of a police force that carried out abuses on behalf of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb Republic in the early 1990s.
In a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court of Canada, the immigration and public safety ministers say Kljajic is therefore inadmissible to Canada — meaning he could be deported if the government case succeeds.
Kljajic was named to a senior position in April 1992 that made him responsible for the RS MUP police, which engaged in widespread and systematic attacks against non-Serb civilians, the ministers’ filing says.
It claims he made false statements about his past to obtain permanent resident status in Canada in 1995 and citizenship in 1999.
Kljajic, who lives in Quebec, has yet to file a defence. He did not return a phone message Friday.
The federal statement filed in court notes that tensions arose in late 1991 between Serb, Croat and Muslim party leaders over the prospect of Bosnia and Herzegovina breaking away from Yugoslavia. That helped foster distinct Bosnian Serb political, administrative and police institutions.
Shortly after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in 1992, war broke out.
In the first months of the war, the focus of the Bosnian Serb leadership was to forge an ethnically homogenous territory by eliminating Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed regions, the federal statement says.
It says thousands of active and reserve members of the RS MUP police took part in a campaign of attacks that included:
— Arbitrary and illegal arrest and detention of a significant portion of the non-Serb population, mainly men, often under inhumane conditions;
— Mistreatment, mental and physical torture, sexual assault and killing of many detainees;
— Forced displacement of non-Serb civilians, and looting and destruction of property.
The federal claim says Kljajic was appointed undersecretary of public security for the Bosnian Serb Republic.