President of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska goes on trial in Sarajevo

President of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska goes on trial in Sarajevo
Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik is on trial for approving laws that defy the authority of the Bosnian Constitutional Court and high representative.
By bne IntelliNews February 5, 2024

The trial of Milorad Dodik, president of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska, began on February 5 with the last-minute replacement of judge Misrad Strika with Sena Uzunovic. 

Dodik is being tried for putting in force laws defying the authority of international community’s high representative Christian Schmid and of the state-level constitutional court on the territory of Republika Srpska.

Dodik, a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has repeatedly challenged the authority of Bosnia’s central state institutions and advocated the secession of Republika Srpska. 

If convicted, Dodik faces a sentence of between six months and five years in prison. A conviction for Dodik would mean his automatic dismissal from the position of Republika Srpska’s president.

The trial started after Strika decided to withdraw from the case and was replaced by Uzunovic, in a step seen by the separatist Serb leader as ordered by "political forces”, N1 reported. 

He claimed the case was politically motivated and led not by a Bosnian court but by “someone else”. His closest allies from the ruling party in Republika Srpska – member of state-level tripartite Presidency, Zeljka Cvijanovic, and the entity’s Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic, said this trial is "the end of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Initially, Dodik's defence demanded that Strika is exempted as well as seven other judges of the court but the request was rejected. However, after that Strika voluntarily decided to withdraw and retire.

“This is completely humiliating, not for me personally, because I will find a way to get out of this in a dignified manner. This is humiliating for the law,” Dodik said as quoted by N1.

He was unhappy with the fact that the new judge who will lead the trial is Bosniak and said he was associated with the main Bosniak SDA party.

“It is raising a question if only Bosniaks are judges and staff of this court. That woman came instead of the judge and said: I am in charge here today,” he said.

In a related case, the trial of Milos Lukic, who serves as the interim director of the Official Gazette of Republika Srpska, is due to start on February 21. Lukic faces charges for allegedly neglecting to implement Schmidt's rulings.

Bosnia comprises two autonomous entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska. Each of them has its own institutions and there are also state-level bodies.