Bosnian Killer Secretly Freed Pending Immigration Hearing

Bosnian killer secretly freed pending immigration hearing

By Sherri Zickefoose
Calgary Herald
May 15, 2009

CALGARY A convicted double murderer who escaped a Bosnian prison and came to Canada as a refugee is walking free after being released from custody as he waits for an immigration board to decide his fate, the Calgary Herald has learned.

Fugitive Elvir Pobric, 37, was secretly freed in Calgary this week, sources told the newspaper.

He is awaiting a hearing with the Immigration and Refugee Board to determine what should be done with him after he was recently captured in Calgary.

Immigration officials said the ministers office is seething that the boards decision bans the government from notifying the public that a convicted murderer has been released.

Not telling the public of Pobrics release exceeded the panels legal authority and they plan to go to court, if necessary, to have it overturned, a source told the newspaper.

Speaking for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, spokesman Alykhan Velshi said the minister has instructed his officials to urgently explore every legal avenue to protect the public safety, including judicial review of the order.

The public has a right to know if a murderer is on the loose. I cant think of a more serious issue of public safety, he said.

The immigration board operates independently of the government.

Pobric was sentenced to 20 years in a Bosnian prison following the April 1992 murders of two men. After shooting them execution-style, Pobric burned and buried the bodies and a car in a garbage dump. He was arrested two days later.

In November 1996, he escaped from jail.

Pobric claimed refugee status when he arrived in Canada in 1999.

Pobric was arrested in Calgary on a Canada-wide immigration warrant last month.

Interpol released a bulletin about Pobric in 2005, but Hamilton police had no idea he was in their city until they received a letter from one of his victims relatives.

A three-month investigation led police to Calgary, where Pobric was living and working in the aluminum-siding business.

Authorities tracked him down after learning he was living as a fugitive with family in Hamilton and Grimsby, Ont.

Sources have said that before his capture, Pobric commuted monthly to a home in Grimsby, where his wife lives.

On Tuesday, Pobric faced the Immigration and Refugee Board wearing leg irons, handcuffs and a blue prison jumpsuit.

His hearing is being held to determine if Canada Border Services Agency has reasonable grounds to believe he is a flight risk, poses a danger to the public or is inadmissible to enter or remain in Canada.

An outstanding fraud charge against Pobric has to be dealt with before officials with Canada Border Services Agency can find him inadmissible.

To remove Pobric from Canada, his landed-immigrant status would have to be revoked. If it is proven he attained his status by misrepresenting himself when he entered Canada, he can be removed.

Although refugee hearings are automatically closed to the public, the board has authority to hold them in the open.

On Tuesday, board member Lee Ann King rejected an application by the media to observe and report on Pobrics detention hearing.

Reporters argued Pobrics case has already been widely reported since his arrest in Calgary. It was also argued Pobrics murder convictions were an issue of public safety and of great public interest.

King did not give reasons for rejecting the medias plea.

Calgary Herald