The resignation of Bosnia’s top judicial official, as well as the removal of a plaque with the name of convicted Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic from a dormitory are direct consequences of the election results in the United States and the EU adoption of the Magnitsky Act, lawyer Senad Pecanin told N1 on Friday.
The President of Bosnia High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), Milan Tegeltija, announced his resignation on Thursday.
The institution has been facing strong criticism from international and domestic organisations and institutions, including the EU, the OSCE and a Bosnian Parliamentary commission, over its alleged failure to prosecute corruption cases.
Pecanin welcomed Tegeltija’s resignation, especially following recent allegations that he was involved in influence peddling.
But there are global developments which led to the decision, according to Pecanin.
“I believe that Tegltija’s resignation, as well as the removal of the plaque with the name of Radovan Karadzic from the dormitory in Pale, are direct consequences of the election results in the United States and a decision by the EU which went unnoticed in our public – the European Council’s adoption of the Magnitsky Act,” Pecanin said.
The plaque with the name of Karadzic was ceremonially unveiled by the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, who is also the leader of the ruling party in the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity.
Bosnia’s international administrator tasked with overseeing the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in Bosnia, High Representative Valentin Inzko, strongly criticised it as a glorification of war criminals and recently said he would ask the EU to ban Dodik from entering unless the plaque is removed.
Dodik is already blacklisted by the US for breaching the Dayton Peace Agreement.
The Magnitsky Act is a law passed by the US Congress in 2012 in an effort to punish Russian officials responsible for the murder of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. It allows the US government to sanction all those it perceives as human rights offenders, freeze their assets and ban them from entering the US.
“After considering it for years, the EU adopted it and I think that Milorad Dodik is predestined to be the first person who the Magnitsky Act could be applied to,” Pecanin said, adding that this could be a factor for why the Bosnian Serb leader asked Tegeltija to resign.
Corruption has entered every pore of Bosnia’s society, he said.
“That is a very direct consequence of the state of the HJCP which Tegeltija has been running for years. He is personally the most responsible person for the catastrophic situation,” he said.
All ruling parties in Bosnia create “terrible pressure” on the judiciary in Bosnia, but in his statements on Thursday, Tegeltija only named the main Bosniak party in the country, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Pecanin said. He stressed that the main Croat and Serb parties, the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) and the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), are doing the same thing.