Language, privacy issues derail immigration hearing for double murderer
The Canadian Press
May 8, 2009
CALGARY A landed immigrant from Bosnia who had been the subject of an international manhunt for the past 13 years made a brief appearance Friday at a Canada immigration detention review in Calgary.
Elvir Pobric, who lives in Grimsby, Ont., is wanted in Bosnia after escaping from prison where he was serving 20 years for robbing and killing two men in 1992. Court records indicate that Pobric lured two associates who traded in black market foreign currency to his mother's home where he shot them in the head with a pistol.
Pobric, who works in Calgary but returns regularly to his family in Ontario, was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant after a hunt by Alberta sheriffs and police in Hamilton, Ont.
Pobric's family claims the Bosnian was interned along with fellow Bosnian Muslims in Tunjice detention camp in Banja Luka shortly after the outbreak of violence between ethnic Serbs and Bosnians in 1992.
At his detention hearing, his Vancouver-based interpreter introduced herself over the speaker phone and said she was fluent in both Bosnian and Serbian.
“Can you tell me your name?,” asked Pobric, clad in a blue jumpsuit and handcuffed.
“I'm sorry, I don't like to have a translator who have a Boza first name okay? That's a Serbian name,” he added.
The translator, who said her first name was Boza, explained she had been born in Zagrab, Croatia.
“I'm sorry, I need somebody from Bosnia,” said Pobric.
Hamilton police received information from Interpol that Pobric broke out of a prison in Foca in 1996 and surfaced in Canada in 1999 when he entered the country as a refugee.
He lived in Hamilton for several years before moving to Grimsby with his wife and children. Police say Pobric was a self-employed siding contractor who ran Ontario Custom Aluminum and had worked in Calgary for several years.
The detention hearing is held for foreign nationals or permanent residents if the Canada Border Services Agency has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is unlikely to appear for future hearings, is a danger to the public or is inadmissible to enter or remain in Canada.
In order to remove Pobric from Canada, he would first have to be stripped of his landed immigrant status – the most likely argument being that he had misrepresented himself when he entered Canada.
The news media was ordered to leave the hearing by adjudicator Lee Anne King. She said it was because Pobric came to Canada as a refugee and there are privacy concerns.
“What I'm trying to find out is if there are any members of the public in the hearing room?,” she asked.
“They should be asked to leave so I can discuss how to deal with the privacy sections of the act.”
The case was adjourned until Tuesday in order to find a Bosnian interpreter and to give the media time to make an application that the case be opened to the public.