BELGRADE – The head of Republika Srpska has rejected a summons by state prosecutors, saying he would not travel to Sarajevo for questioning after he defied a high-court ruling by holding a controversial referendum.
Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik was summoned after Bosnian Serbs on September 25 voted overwhelmingly to maintain a “statehood day” holiday on January 9.
Dodik told a news conference on September 27 that he would not travel to Sarajevo because he feared for his security.
Dodik said that, following a threat by Bakir Izetbegovic – the Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency, who had said earlier Dodik would end up like Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic – he did not want to put his life at risk by going to Sarajevo.
Dodik explained he saw the threat as a message to all extremist groups and a call to assassinate him.
“I will not go to the prosecutor’s office in Sarajevo but I am ready to give a statement in any other judiciary office in [Republika Srpska],” he said.
He labelled the Sarajevo-based State Court and Prosecution Office a “farce.”
His refusal to comply with the summons could force state prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant, which could be difficult to enforce in the autonomous region, where the influence of Sarajevo is limited.
“If Dodik fails to comply with a summons, and fails to justify it, the prosecution will then issue an arrest warrant,” said Bosnia’s Security Minister Dragan Mektic.
Bosnia’s Constitutional Court had cancelled the referendum, ruling that the holiday is illegal because it discriminates against non-Serbs, but Dodik held the referendum despite that ruling as well as considerable pressure from the United States and the European Union.
A violation of Constitutional Court decisions is punishable with prison sentences ranging from six months to five years.
Western powers fear the vote could bring about instability in Bosnia, which only last week made its first major step towards joining the European Union.
Dodik wants constitutionality of BiH Independence Day assessed
Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik said in Banjaluka Tuesday he had requested the deputy club of his Alliance of Independent Social Democrats in the RS assembly to initiate an assessment of the constitutionality of March 1, the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Independence Day.
The explanation will be the same as the one for the ban on celebrating January 9 as the RS Day, Dodik told an extraordinary press conference, at which he took no questions from reporters.
“We will request that March 1 be adjusted for the Serbs because that day is not marked in RS and it is not a non-working day in RS,” he said.
March 1 is a day the Serbs have a problem with because a referendum was held on that date without their participation and the Bosniaks confirmed the secession from Yugoslavia, which was a pretext for the war, Dodik said.