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Janell Cole, Published September 11 2007

Hidanovic to serve rest of his sentence

BISMARCK – A Fargo man convicted of engaging in a riot at the 2006 Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo will serve the remainder of his sentence.

The North Dakota Parole Board voted 3-0 to deny parole to Mevludin Hidanovic.

Hidanovic, 28, told the board – as he has maintained throughout his case – he was nowhere near a fight at the fairgrounds.

“To tell you the truth I wasn’t involved in the fight,” he said.

Board member Budd Warren of West Fargo said witnesses at Hidanovic’s trial who had no connection to the rival groups that fought testified seeing him there with a baseball bat.

“I had nothing to do with the fight,” Hidanovic responded.

During deliberations, board member Everett Nels Olson said they couldn’t ignore or nullify the jury’s guilty verdict.

Board members discussed Hidanovic’s other criminal convictions for menacing and assault in 2004, which involved domestic violence protection orders for his wife, Chanda. Hidanovic told the board his relationship with his wife is good now.

“He has a history of violence,” Olson said.

Pat Bohn, the board’s deputy clerk, told board members that Hidanovic also has “write-ups” at the James River Correctional Center in Jamestown for poor institutional behavior – failing to comply with recommended rehabilitation programs.

Hidanovic is serving his

18-month sentence at the JRCC. The board interviewed him by interactive television. Bohn said that with credit for good behavior, his sentence would expire on May 21, 2008.

Warren said the board should disregard a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer. The ICE has asked penitentiary officials to hold Hidanovic for them when he finishes his sentence so they can take him into custody for possible deportation to Bosnia.

“The immigration thing is going to be there whether we do anything or not,” he said.

Hidanovic’s appeal of his conviction is before the state Supreme Court. He is seeking a new trial because one juror came forward after the trial and admitted she had convinced other jurors to convict him because she had a personal prejudice against Bosnians. Oral arguments on the appeal are expected sometime in November.

Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net