Defiance On Trial
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The trial of the president of Bosnia’s Serb-majority region began this week, a case involving a major dispute between the Bosnian Serb leader and the international envoy overseeing the country’s peace agreements, Radio Free Europe reported.
Milorad Dodik, president of the Republika Srpska, is accused of defying decisions by Christian Schmidt, the international peace envoy and High Representative to Bosnia-Herzegovina charged with overseeing the enforcement of the Dayton Agreement that ended the country’s bloody civil war in the 1990s.
The charges against Dodik stem from two laws he signed in June that allowed Republika Srpska to disregard decisions made by Schmidt and the country’s constitutional court, according to Agence France-Presse.
On July 1, Schmidt annulled both bills.
The trial is scheduled to reconvene early next month, with the prosecution set to present evidence against the Bosnian Serb leader.
If found guilty, Dodik could face up to five years in prison and a ban on holding office.
He has dismissed the case as “a purely political process,” adding that he will not recognize the court’s verdict. His defense team contended that the evidence against him “isn’t based on facts.”
Dodik, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has refused to recognize Schmidt’s authority after Russia and China dropped their support for the position. He has frequently stoked ethnic tensions in the ethnically diverse nation and threatened to split Republika Srpska from the rest of the country.
Bosnia-Herzegovina operates under a complex administrative framework made up of two entities, a Bosniak-Croat federation and Republika Srpska, both overseen by a civilian high representative with substantial authority.