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Judge says Missouri man accused of war crime can be extradited to Bosnia

By ROBERT PATRICK | St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Published: March 23, 2020

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Tribune News Service) — A federal judge has approved a request to extradite a St. Louis County man to Bosnia to face a war crime charge.

The government of Bosnia and Herzegovina says that Adem Kostjerevac raped a pregnant Serbian prisoner in 1992. He was indicted there in 2015, court documents here say, and a prosecutor sought an order to arrest him in April 2017.

Kostjerevac's lawyer, Kayla Williams, pointed out in an email Monday that, "this decision is only a probable cause finding and not a finding of guilt." In a hearing here last year, she challenged a witness identification of Kostjerevac and argued in court filings that he'd been charged too long after the crime.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Cohen's order, filed Friday, won't result in Kostjerevac's immediate extradition. It says federal prosecutors provided "sufficient competent evidence to grant the certificate of Kostjerevac’s extraditability," and that the final decision is up to the Secretary of State. Williams said neither side can appeal the decision.

The extradition request says Kostjerevac was a military policeman with the 1st Muslim Brigade of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time. The woman was arrested Sept. 17, 1992, after Muslim forces surrounded her village and was held for two weeks in the basement of a mill in another small village.

The woman told investigators that she was pregnant, and that the multiple assaults caused her to miscarry. She was later raped multiple times by a guard in a different location, court documents say, and released as part of a prisoner exchange on Feb. 5, 1993, weighing just 81 pounds.

During an interview with FBI agents at his St. Louis County home in 2014, Kostjerevac denied raping the woman, saying he sent her food and prevented others from killing her.

Court documents show Kostjerevac came to the U.S. about 17 years ago with his wife. He now has five adult children.

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