By Anes Alic
The Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) filed a motion to abolish the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) state court and the prosecutor’s office upon the approval of the Republika Srpska (RS) National Assembly. The parties want international staff working in these institutions declared persona non grata.
The motion, which was filed on Wednesday (February 1st), is a response to a decision made by the BiH international prosecutor, Jude Romano, to drop a criminal investigation targeting 14 high-ranking wartime officials, some of whom remain influential.
The investigation was into the May 1992 incident known as the Dobrovoljacka Street attack, in which Serbian and Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) soldiers were killed when JNA troops took former BiH President Alija Izetbegovic hostage at the Sarajevo airport.
“The Dobrovoljacka Street decision is a political tool of the BiH judiciary institutions. They are amnestying BiH wartime leadership of crimes committed against Serbs while, at the same time, prosecuting only Bosnian Serbs, by it trying to define the character and nature of the war in BiH,” Jelena Dabarcic, an SDS advisor, told SETimes.
The State Prosecutor’s Office failed to pursue cases of war crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs, despite the continued submissions of evidence, she said.
Both institutions were formed in 2002 by the Office of the High Representative (OHR). Since the institutions started operation, more than 200 people have been tried and sentenced for war crimes.
In 2002, the OHR hired a number of international personnel to staff the institutions to ensure political independence and objectivity. Their mandates initially expired in 2009 but were prolonged until the end of 2012.
Romano was appointed in 2006 by the OHR. In his ruling in the Dobrovoljacka Street case, he determined the suspects’ actions had no criminal intent. The investigation into the deaths of JNA soldiers will continue.
The current initiative could easily prolong the ongoing political stalemate that has already seen RS officials threaten to withdraw from forming a new state government.
In late December — 14 months after general elections — the country’s six main political parties, including the SNSD and SDS, agreed to form a new state government.
According to Dabarcic, the SNSD and the SDS are considering withdrawing from ongoing talks and nominating their candidates for top state posts.
Meddzida Kreso, the president of the BiH court, says that both the court and prosecution are under close scrutiny from all sides.
“Our job is not to be liked or disliked. Our duty is to do our job professionally, responsibly, unbiased and independently from politics. Recent calls for our abolition have nothing to do with our work — this is a much deeper political problem,” Kreso told SETimes.