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Quebec man could lose Canadian citizenship over role in Bosnia police force

A portion of Canada's citizenship and immigration website is shown in this 2016 file photo.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/The Canadian Press

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 Mr. Kljajic is therefore inadmissible to Canada – meaning he could be deported if the government case succeeds.

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Mr. 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.

Mr. Kljajic, who lives in Quebec, has yet to file a defence. He did not return a phone call on 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.

The federal claim says Mr. Kljajic was appointed undersecretary of public security for the Bosnian Serb Republic. "As such, he was legally responsible for the RS MUP police and their acts."

Mr. Kljajic was "a staunch supporter" of an ethnic Serb police force, participated in its creation, and was responsible for the general oversight and direction of police work throughout the territory controlled by the Bosnian Serb regime from the beginning of hostilities until November, 1992, the statement adds.

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From early on in the conflict, Mr. Kljajic "had full knowledge" of the crimes being committed by his subordinates in the Serb police force, it says.

In June, 1993, Canada designated the Bosnian Serb government a regime that had committed gross human rights violations or crimes against humanity – a label that makes any senior official of that government inadmissible to Canada.

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