Bosnian Serb leader calls trial “political”, proceedings adjourned again

SARAJEVO – Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik took to the stand on Wednesday in a trial in which he is accused of defying the rulings of an international peace envoy, calling the proceedings a “political process” and attacking prosecutors.

In an unexpected move towards the end of the day’s hearings, following which the trial was adjourned for a fourth time, Dodik stood to say that his acts have been in line with the Serb Republic’s constitution and the Dayton peace accords, of which Bosnia’s constitution is part.

“This is a political process,” Dodik said. “This court must not allow the political process to go on,” he said, adding that the prosecutors were “good-for-nothing lawyers”. It was the first time he has spoken in court.

Dodik, who is the president of Bosnia´s autonomous Serb Republic, was indicted along with another Serb official in August by state prosecutors after signing laws that suspended rulings by the constitutional court and by the peace envoy, even though the envoy had revoked the legislation.

The start of the trial has already been delayed three times in the past two months over procedural issues brought by Dodik’s legal team.

On Wednesday, his lawyers requested the trial be adjourned because another defendant, Milan Lukic, did not show up in court for health reasons.

Judge Mirsad Strika refused that demand, saying that he suspected it was another reason for a delay, and decided to separate the two defendants’ cases.

Dodik’s lawyer Goran Bubic then requested that Strika and seven other judges be removed from the case over alleged bias towards Dodik and lodged a new request for the trial to be moved to a court in the Serb Republic´s main city of Banja Luka.

An earlier demand to move the case was rejected by the court’s appeal chamber, which must now rule on the latest requests before the trial can continue.

Strika adjourned the proceeding until Jan. 30. REUTERS

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