Extradition hearing scheduled for woman accused of Bosnian war crimes

Judge also considering motion to dismiss

jhewlett@herald-leader.comAugust 23, 2011 

U.S. marshals escorted Azra Basic into the Federal Courthouse in Lexington on March 17, 2011 to appear on charges of committing war crimes against ethnic Serbs in 1992.

DAVID PERRY | STAFF

An extradition hearing for Azra Bašic, accused of war crimes against civilians during the Bosnian civil war in the 1990s, has been set for Nov. 7 in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier set the date Monday during a status hearing. Bašic, who is being held in the Fayette County jail, appeared in court in jail garb.

In addition to setting a date for the extradition hearing, Wier said he is considering a motion filed by defense attorney Patrick Nash to dismiss the extradition petition.

"I think we've got some really valid arguments on the dismissal motion," he said after the hearing.

For one thing, Nash said, the 1901 extradition treaty between U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Serbian King M. Michel V. Vouitch is not applicable to modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For another thing, Bašic is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and the extradition treaty includes language that says U.S. citizens cannot be extradited, he said. Bašic became a U.S. citizen on Jan. 26, 2007, Nash said.

Bašic, 52, was arrested in March in Powell County. She is accused of torturing and murdering ethnic Serbs at prison camps from April to June 1992.

Nash said if the motion to dismiss is not granted and the outcome of an extradition hearing is not in Bašic's favor, Bašic could file a habeas corpus petition and appeal in the federal court system.

Accompanying Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart to Monday's hearing was Terry Schubert, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., who explained extradition hearing procedures to those involved in the case. An international extradition case is unusual for the federal Eastern District of Kentucky.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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