Bosnian Serb leader Dodik stands trial for defying peace envoy

Dodik called the envoy a ‘stinker’ as he demanded the trial be relocated to the capital of Bosnia’s Serbia entity.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik delivers a statement to journalists gathered in front of the courthouse of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo on December 6, 2023. - Dodik has been indicted for refusing to recognise rulings made by an international envoy charged with overseeing the country's landmark peace accords
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik delivers a statement to journalists gathered in front of the court of in Sarajevo [Barukcic/AFP]

The trial of Bosnian Serb leader Milord Dodik has opened at a court in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, where the contentious leader is facing charges of ignoring rulings from an international envoy that oversees the country’s peace accords.

Dodik made a brief appearance at the trial on Wednesday before demanding that it be transferred to Banja Luka, the capital of Bosnia’s Serbia entity, Republika Srpska (RS).

As a result, the trial was adjourned, with its future location uncertain.

The court hearing comes after months of tensions following Dodik’s signing of legislation that rejected the decisions made by Bosnia’s international high representative Christian Schmidt and the constitutional court.

Dodik chided Schmidt and US Ambassador to Bosnia Michael Murphy for their “colonial behaviour” as he exited the court.

“The stinker named Christian Schmidt and the jerk named Murphy are trying to make life miserable in Bosnia,” said Dodik.

Schmidt oversees the Dayton Agreement that ended the country’s bloody civil war in the 1990s.

In July, the high representative struck down the laws Dodik passed, which the Bosnian Serb leader went on to sign anyway.

He now faces five years in prison and a ban on participating in politics if convicted, as the international envoy has the authority to strip a political leader of their power.

Dodik has denounced his trial as political persecution.

A controversial figure

The Bosnian Serb leader has been a controversial figure throughout his career, having served as prime minister several times, as well as president of RS and co-president of Bosnia.

He has refused to recognise Schmidt’s authority and has been sanctioned by the US, which has accused him of corruption and threatening the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. An ally of the Kremlin, Dodik has long stoked ethnic tensions.

Since his indictment, he has also ramped up his demand that the RS secede from Bosnia.

Bosnia has a weak central government, governed by two bodies created under the Dayton Accords, a Muslim-Croat federation and RS.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies