Calls To Fix Refugee System Follow Arrest Of Bosnian Killer

Calls to fix refugee system follow arrest Of Bosnian Killer

Gwendolyn Richards
Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, May 01, 2009

The arrest in Canada of a Bosnian man convicted of murder — more than a decade after he escaped prison in his home country — is just one more good reason to plug the holes in Canada's immigration and refugee system, says a former MP.

Elvir Pobric, 37, claimed refugee status when he arrived in Canada in 1999 after breaking out of prison in Bosnia where he was serving a 20-year sentence for killing two men there. That news came as a shock to former Calgary Conservative MP Art Hanger.

“Our system needs to be corrected to prevent these types of things from happening,” he said yesterday.

While Pobric made his claim in 1999, Mr. Hanger suggested similar cases are still happening today.

The system, Mr. Hanger said, is set up to protect the claimants but there is not enough investigation into the claims they are making.

“I think that's how he managed to slip in.”

Pobric was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison following the April, 1992, murders of two men who bought and sold foreign currencies for a living. After shooting them execution-style, Pobric burned and buried the bodies and a car in a garbage dump in the woods. He was arrested two days later.

But in November, 1996, Pobric escaped.

Officials only learned he was in Canada after the daughter of one of Pobric's victims sent a letter to the Hamilton police chief asking for justice. She provided an address for Pobric that launched a three-month investigation.

He was arrested on Tuesday in Calgary — where he has been working — on a Canada-wide immigration warrant.

Calgary Centre MP Lee Richardson said there were difficulties in the '90s with the excessive volume of refugee claimants and the government has worked since then to improve the system.

Still, he said, there are cases where refugees are making fraudulent claims.

“It's a very tough situation with the charter rights,” he said, adding that once people claim refugee status rights they have the same rights as Canadians until their claims are proven otherwise.


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