AP, December 29, 2005
New York judge considers extridition of former Bosnian ambassador
By LARRY NEUMEISTER
NEW YORK -- A lawyer for the former Bosnian ambassador to the United Nations told a federal judge Wednesday that she should block the extradition of his client because he has not been formally charged with a crime in Bosnia.
The lawyer, James J. McGuire, told U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones that Muhamed Sacirbey, a U.S. citizen, should not be sent to Bosnia, where authorities have accused him of stealing more than $2.4 million of their government's money.
Jones said she would rule at a later date.
McGuire said a 1901 treaty requires that anyone being extradited to Bosnia must already be charged or convicted of a crime.
"There is no charge pending against Mr. Sacirbey," he said. "The government has failed to meet its burden."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anjan Sahni said Bosnian authorities had repeatedly promised that the case against Sacirbey would proceed once he is extradited.
He said it was enough that Bosnia had demonstrated an intent to prosecute.
Sacirbey, 49, who was born in Sarajevo in 1956 and became a U.S. citizen in 1973, was arrested in March 2003. He was held in custody in the United States for 16 months before he was released in summer 2004 on bail.
McGuire said Sacirbey, who wears an ankle bracelet during home detention, has remained willing to cooperate in the investigation.
Sacirbey said outside court Wednesday that he believed his constitutional rights were being violated so the United States could pursue its foreign policy goals.
"If I were charged with a crime in this country, I wouldn't be treated like this," he said.
Earlier this year, a U.S. magistrate judge in Manhattan ordered Sacirbey extradited, saying there was probable cause to conclude he had embezzled. Sacirbey appealed the ruling to Jones.
Sacirbey has testified that he acted properly while he was ambassador to the United Nations for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 2000, even using his own money to fund operations when he did not receive government money.
He said he received no improper personal benefit from government funds and that any shortfalls were overcome by personal funds he contributed to Bosnia's mission and by his decision not to accept a salary while he was ambassador.
The Bosnian government accused him of stealing about $1.8 million from its Investment Fund Ministry. And a commission appointed by Bosnia's Foreign Ministry found in 2001 that $610,980 was missing from Bosnia's mission to the United Nations.