Bosnian Serb leader seeks referendum on war crimes court

[JURIST] Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik [official website, in Serbian] initiated legislation [official agenda] in the National Assembly of Republika Srpska [official website, in Serbian] on Wednesday to challenge the legitimacy [legislative materials, in Serbian] of Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) war crimes court and the nation's prosecutor's office. Dodik alleges that the court is biased [AFP report] because it has prosecuted more ethnic Serbs than ethnic Croats or Muslims. Additionally, he said that the international community acted in contravention [AP report] of the Dayton Peace Accords [USDOS materials] by setting up the court, which was not envisaged in the Accords. After Wednesday's debate, legislators in Republika Srpska's 83-member National Assembly approved a referendum [Serbian Voice report, in Serbian] on the matter. The date for the referendum has not been determined.

Republika Srpska is a legal entity within BiH that has a predominantly ethnic-Serb population. According to statistics provided by Dodik, through 2010, ethnic Serbs have been sentenced to a total of 1,067 years of imprisonment by the war crimes court, whereas ethnic Croats were sentenced to 137.5 years and ethnic Bosniacs to 124 years of imprisonment. In addition, the statistics indicate that out of the convictions handed down by the court, 50 have been against ethnic Serbs, 11 against Croats and eight against Bosniacs. In March, the court confirmed the indictment [JURIST report] of a former police officer for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive]. In November, Dragan Crnogorac was arrested in BiH [JURIST report] on suspicion of having committed genocide. Crnogorac was also a police officer who is alleged to have shot Bosnian Muslim men and boys.

 

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