Advertisement

Ohio sausage maker accused of being a Serbian war criminal

A cemetery in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where victims from the Yugoslavian wars are buried.  (Getty)
A cemetery in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where victims from the Yugoslavian wars are buried. (Getty)

An Ohio sausage maker has been accused by US federal authorities of covering up his past as a war criminal in the former Yugoslavia.

Jugoslav Vidic, 54, of Parma Heights, was arrested on Thursday and charged with lying to immigration officials when he entered the US in 1999, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

Prosecutors said Mr Vidic was convicted in absentia in 1998 of the murder of a former co-worker at a meat processing plant during an attack by the Red Berets special forces unit of the Yugoslavian army in 1991.

Mr Vidic, an ethnic Serb, allegedly “singled out and took away at gunpoint” Croat Stjepan Komes during the raid. Komes was never seen alive again, and his body was found in a mass grave.

The DOJ notes that Komes was targeted because he shook hands with former Croatian President Franjo Tudjman during a press event a year earlier.

Mr Vidic fled to the US in 1999 under refugee status and is alleged to have lied about his military background and involvement in extra-judicial killings. He became a permanent resident in 2005.

Mr Vidic pleaded not guilty to one count of procuring a green card through false statements and one count of making lying to a federal agent during an appearance the US District Court in Cleveland on Thursday.

He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted.

His attorney Daniel Misiewicz did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Independent.

An estimated 140,000 people died and two million were displaced in sectarian killings and wars after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

After arriving in the US, Vidic was accused of sexually harassing four female employees at a Dave’s Supermarket where he worked as the meat department manager in 2009, according to Cleveland.com.

The grocery chain was sued by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and eventually settled the case out of court and paid a $300,000 fine.

Mr Vidic then opened his own business, Jugo’s, making and selling Balkan-style sausages. It was slapped with a recall by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2019 for selling uninspected meat.