Milorad Dodik speaks to the media in front of the Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo on December 6 after the trial was postponed.
A court in Bosnia-Herzegovina on December 6 postponed the start of Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik's trial on charges related to his efforts to ignore decisions by an international envoy at the request of his lawyers, who want the trial moved.
Lawyers for Dodik on December 4 asked that the trial be moved from Sarajevo to Banja Luka.
The Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina rejected the request, but Dodik’s defense team argued they have right to appeal the decision and that they will do so within the three-day legal limit.
Judge Mirsad Strika set December 20 as the new date for the start of the trial, provided a ruling on the appeal is issued by then.
During the hearing on December 6, Dodik, who has called the case a "political process" and a "circus," refused to answer the judge's questions or stand up when the judge told him to.
Dodik and the head of Republika Srpska’s official legal gazette, Milos Lukic, are charged with criminal offenses in connection with efforts to ignore decisions by Bosnia's Constitutional Court and international envoy Christian Schmidt.
Schmidt heads the Office of the High Representative (OHR), the international community's overseer of civilian, administrative, and other aspects of government stemming from the Dayton agreement that ended three years of intense fighting in 1995.
Schmidt on December 6 denied the process against Dodik was political.
"Those who are accused often defend themselves by saying that it's a political process. It's not, it's a process against Milorad Dodik,“ Schmidt said, speaking in Sarajevo after a meeting of the Peace Implementation Council steering board.
He said the case was "about Dodik and he has to accept in a decent way that this is an impartial judiciary."
Schmidt also responded to statements by Dodik about the possibility that the Bosnian Serb-dominated entity would declare independence from Bosnia, saying that secessionist rhetoric poisons the reconciliation process and the spirit of cooperation in Bosnia.
"It is clear that anyone who tries to threaten the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina and its stability, inside or outside the country, represents a danger for this country and its European future. However, at the same time, I emphasize that the European Union and the international community are ready to protect this country and its citizens, if necessary," Schmidt said.
He pointed out that Bosnian citizens had never been closer to EU integration and that "there is a real chance that in the next month they will be closer to that goal."
The legislation at the center of the case against Dodik was approved by Bosnian Serb lawmakers in June and signed by Dodik on July 7 before being published in the gazette. It stipulated that the decisions of the OHR and the Constitutional Court should not be applied in the territory of the Republika Srpska.
The indictment states that Dodik signed the laws even though he was aware that the decisions of the OHR are binding.
Lukic is accused of having "facilitated the implementation of the publication procedure" of the laws.
Dodik and Lukic face up to five years in prison and a ban on working in all public institutions and companies if found guilty.
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