OTTAWA — A federal judge says there are reasonable grounds to believe a Quebec resident was complicit in crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia.
In a ruling Thursday, Federal Court Justice Paul Crampton sided with Ottawa in its case against Cedo Kljajic, saying a civilized society cannot turn its back on the victims of distant crimes.
The government alleged Kljajic fraudulently obtained Canadian citizenship by concealing his role in the creation and operation of a police force that carried out abuses on behalf of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb Republic in the early 1990s.
The federal immigration and public safety ministers said he was therefore inadmissible to Canada, meaning he now faces deportation as a result of the court ruling.
The ministers argued Kljajic was named to a senior position in April 1992 that made him responsible for the RS MUP police, which engaged in widespread and systematic attacks against non-Serb civilians.
They said he made false statements about his past to obtain permanent resident status in Canada in 1995 and citizenship in 1999.
Kljajic contested the allegations and put forward his own version of the facts, saying he only remained in the positions he held due to fear of retribution.
In his ruling, Crampton concluded Kljajic became a permanent resident and later a citizen through false representation, fraud or knowingly concealing relevant circumstances.
The judge also found Kljajic was a senior official of a government deemed to have engaged in crimes against humanity, and that there are reasonable grounds to believe he was complicit in those crimes, making him inadmissible to Canada.
"War can bring out the worst in people. Some do things that they later regret, perhaps deeply so. Others may act in ways that haunt, shame or torment them for the rest of their lives," Crampton wrote in his ruling.
They may understandably want to hide such things as they try to build a new life, he said.
"Yet, as much as compassion for such people can reflect a virtuous aspect of the human spirit, a civilized society cannot turn its back on the victims of distant crimes," Crampton wrote.
"The light of the law must be allowed to shine on all of the circumstances surrounding dark deeds that may later be discovered, so that the role of those who may have been involved can be scrutinized for what it was and was not."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2020.
Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press