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U.S. agents arrest ex-soldier wanted for war crimes in Bosnia

(Reuters) - A former Bosnian platoon commander accused of war crimes has been arrested by federal agents in New York on an extradition request from his home country, authorities said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, said Sulejman Mujagic was arrested on Wednesday in Utica, New York, by federal agents following an extradition request from the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More than 100,000 people were killed and millions more displaced during the violent breakup in the 1990s of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia, of which present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina formed a part.

Mujagic, 50, has been charged there with unlawful killing of the enemy and unlawful wounding and torture of a prisoner of war while he was commanding a platoon in the army of the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia during the war, ICE said in a news release.

The charges stem from March 1995, when Mujagic was accused of murdering a captured soldier and torturing another captured soldier who were fighting on behalf of the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mujagic had lived in Utica since July 1997 as a legal permanent resident. His arrest followed a probe by agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations agency, or HSI, as well as other federal and local law enforcement agencies.

"United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities have cooperated on numerous war crimes cases in the past and will continue to work closely together in the future to bring alleged perpetrators of war crimes to justice," ICE said in a statement.

"HSI is committed to rooting out alleged human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the United States," it added.

Since 2004, ICE said HSI had deported more than 400 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. It currently has more than 180 active investigations and is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from nearly 95 countries.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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