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News 23 Jan 12

Bosnian Serbs Seek End to State Court, Prosecutor

Two major Serb parties will ask the state parliament to abolish state-level judiciary institutions over a decision to cancel a controversial wartime probe.

Elvira Jukic

The Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, announced at a joint press conference in Banja Luka on Sunday that they will send an initiative to the state parliament to abolish the state-level court and prosecutor's office.

The move is prompted by the state prosecutor's decision to drop an investigation into the Dobrovoljacka Street case.

Bosnia's state prosecution on January 17 terminated the investigation into 14 individuals suspected of involvement in the Dobrovoljacka Street killings in May 1992 in Sarajevo, when a Yugoslav National Army convoy was pulling out of the city at the beginning of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

Milorad Dodik, leader of the SNSD and president of Republika Srpska, Bosnia's predominantly Serb entity, said he intends to strengthen the entity court and prosecutor's office to deal with war crime cases since the state-level institutions dropped the probe.

“What was done in the Dobrovoljacka case is humiliating for Serb victims, not only those present at Dobrovoljacka Street but in general,” Dodik said, “because a system that would enable the processing of war crimes against Serbs is missing.”

Dodik and Mladen Bosic, the leader of SDS, will also ask the Bosnian Foreign Ministry to declare foreign prosecutors personae non gratae because they believe the decision to drop the Dobrovoljacka probe was brought by the international prosecutor Jude Romano.

The two Serb leaders argue that the Dobrovoljacka probe is a deeply political issue and that the decision to drop it was made in order to define the character of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia so that pressure could later be put on Republika Srpska.

In the announcement of their decision last week, the state prosecutor's office said it had determined that the suspects had not been involved in any criminal action.

“The decision to discontinue the investigation against the mentioned suspects, which has been made following an expansive investigation, is based on 352 witnesses’ statements and 412 pieces of material evidence, including documents, video recordings, intercepted conversations and other evidence material,” the announcement reads.

This is not the first time that Bosnian Serb leaders have threatened to block the work of the state judiciary.

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