Tuesday, October 11, 2011


This is a first, and perhaps the harbinger of things to come.

The cost of being stripped of citizenship News National Post

The cost of being stripped of citizenship

Adrian Humphreys Oct 10, 2011 – 9:40 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 10, 2011 10:09 PM ET

An accused war criminal who abused prisoners in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Balkan war before moving to B.C. has been ordered to pay Canada the substantial costs of stripping him of his Canadian citizenship, part of the government’s aggressive stance against those involved in foreign atrocities found hiding in Canada.

Branko Rogan’s past emerged after the wife of a former inmate bumped into him by chance at a Burnaby mall in 1996 after both families immigrated to Canada. Huso Hadzic then confirmed his identity and phoned the RCMP.

“I had to do something,” Mr. Hadzic told court earlier, “I am not going to see him here enjoying this beautiful country.”

Mr. Rogan, a Serb, came to Canada from Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1994 and became a Canadian citizen. Mr. Hadzic, a Bosnian Muslim, fled the war-torn area as a refugee and settled in Canada a year before.

The two men had grown up together in the town of Bileca but in 1992, as ethnic tensions exploded in the region, Mr. Hadzic, along with others, were rounded up and imprisoned merely because they were Muslim men. He was held without charge for four months.

Mr. Rogan was a reserve police officer working as a guard where the prisoners were held in inhumane conditions.

“Mr. Rogan was well aware of the fact that prisoners were being subjected to physical abuse, including beatings. Mr. Rogan was directly involved in the physical abuse of prisoners,” Federal Court of Canada Justice Anne Mactavish declared in August.

Mr. Rogan became the first citizenship revocation case for modern war crimes and the government made a compelling argument. But it was an expensive enterprise.

Four former prisoners provided first-hand evidence and a specialist in the history of the former Yugoslavia was brought in from Denmark; Professor Christian Axboe Nielsen had been an officer with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Judge Mactavish accepted the government’s evidence, declaring this summer that Mr. Rogan obtained his Canadian citizenship by knowingly concealing material information. That paved the way for the government to withdraw his citizenship, which is needed before deportation.

Now, the government is after Mr. Rogan to pay the costs of pressing the case against him.

He was given a bill for more than $300,000 — including $223,484 in disbursements, $56,505 in legal fees, $21,015 for a researcher, more than $10,000 for transcripts and court services and unspecified travel costs for four government lawyers and translation.

Mr. Rogan remained defiant, accusing the government of spending needlessly. He asked the court to award no costs. He said it was not necessary to bring Prof. Nielsen in to testify, for instance.

Judge Mactavish disagreed, ruling last week: “I was greatly assisted by Dr. Nielsen’s testimony,” and describing it as “invaluable in understanding the roots of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.” She approved the $14,365 cost of the expert witness as well as the legal fees.

She did strike some items from the bill, however, saying the daily transcription and researcher were not necessary. She also questioned travel to Bosnia for four government lawyers when only two appeared at trial.

“Why are they going after him for all of this?” asked Mr. Rogan’s Vancouver lawyer, Alex Stojicevic, in an interview. “They are stripping him of his citizenship because he lied. All of the rest of this, about what he was lying about, is a side issue.”

He said his client was dismayed by the process.

“He spoke to the RCMP in 1998 about this and essentially admitted as much [about lying],” said Mr. Stojicevic. “It should have ended then, but it took a very, very long time. I think it took him a little bit by surprise when they finally proceeded.”

Part of the delay was because a criminal prosecution of Mr. Rogan was contemplated rather than citizenship revocation.

Canada can criminally prosecute someone in Canada believed to have committed crimes against humanity or war crimes, but it is rare. The easier route is to revoke their right to remain in Canada and deport them, a controversial strategy some say allows them to escape justice.

Despite the success in court, Mr. Rogan remains in Canada with his wife and two children.

“Mr. Rogan remains a citizen unless his citizenship is revoked by the Governor-in-Council,” said Nancy Caron, spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. “The Federal Court hearing is only one step in the process of seeking revocation. I cannot comment on how long this process may take.”

Mr. Stojicevic confirmed that while the court has approved the move, the government has not yet actually revoked his client’s citizenship. If it does, there may be other court appeals, he said.

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, defended the government’s stance.

“Minister Kenney has been clear: Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” said Candice Malcolm, a spokeswoman for the minister.

“Canadians are generous people, but have no tolerance and no patience for people who don’t play by the rules, who lie or cheat to become a Canadian citizen. Our government will apply the full strength of Canadian law to those who have obtained citizenship fraudulently.”

Despite the fact he remains in Canada, Mr. Rogan’s case is heralded as one of the three “success” stories by the Department of Justice’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program.

National Post

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