Thursday, December 06, 2007

U.S. judge questions Canadian's border arrest. All media back in Croatia are covering this story and it was covered by a number of Canadian media outlets but not from CNN; Isn't Lou Dobbs talking about broken borders? Immigration? So why is that Mr. Lou? or just because he Isn't a Mexican?

DETROIT -- A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday questioned why a Canadian citizen, accused of war crimes and facing possible deportation to Croatia, wasn't simply turned back instead of being arrested when he tried to drive across the Windsor-Detroit border a month ago.

United States Magistrate Judge Virginia Morgan also asked for briefs to be filed by Dec. 19 on whether U.S. District Court even has jurisdiction to hear the case of Kitchener long-haul trucker Goran Pavic, 42, arrested Nov. 7 on an Interpol war crimes warrant.

He is accused of ethnic cleansing in his home town of Vukovar in the early 1990s. A Croatian court, which added Pavic's name to a lengthy war criminals list in 2006, alleges that the ethnic Serbian helped burn down Croatians' homes, beat a man, and a took a number of people off buses at gunpoint, 35 of whom are still missing.

The father of four has lived in Canada for 10 years and crossed into the United States hundreds of times as a trucker, the last few years for Provider Transportation and Logistics.

One day after receiving an Interpol "red alert," however, U.S. customs agents arrested Pavic.

"He had not yet cleared customs," Morgan said of Pavic's most recent attempt to enter the U.S.

"What we have done is taken this Canadian citizen and instead of turning him around and letting the Canadians deal with him ... we're going to deal with this."

U.S. attorney Karen Reynolds argued that it is normal procedure for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to arrest somebody with an outstanding warrant trying to enter the country.

Pavic's lawyer Linda Babich argued that, in fact, many Canadians are simply turned back at the border, though she noted that her client even has a government-issued FAST Pass for speedier border crossing.

Babich asked that her client be transferred from Wayne County jail to a less dangerous facility. So the judge ordered him moved to the lower-security Milan federal prison.

Some 20 friends and family packed one side of the courtroom to support Pavic who, sitting in grey pants and shirt emblazoned on the back with Wayne County Jail Prisoner, listened to the proceedings through a Serbian translator.

When the burly Canadian was led from the courtroom, a number of his supporters yelled encouragements and gave the thumb's up sign.

Pavic's sister Gorana Krstic, who has previously acted as family spokesperson, said she could not really address the case on her lawyer's advice.

"We're all expecting him to be home very soon," Krstic said. "It has been very hard because he is in jail for nothing."

Tuesday's proceeding was covered by a number of Canadian media outlets, as well as by Croatian national television.

"This is a really big story back in Croatia," said Branka Slavica, the network's Washington correspondent, who likened the Vukovar incident in Croatia to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre that came to define the war in Bosnia. "All media back in Croatia are covering this story."

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