BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said Tuesday he agrees to be questioned by the state prosecutor about a referendum held despite a ban by the constitutional court.
However, Dodik said he will only agree to the meeting if it takes place in the Serb part of the country.
“I won’t go to Sarajevo,” he declared in the Republika Srpska region, while labelling the Sarajevo-based State Court and Prosecution office a “farce.”
But Bosnia’s Security Minister, Dragan Mektic, said that if Dodik does not appear in front of the prosecutor as a suspect without a justified reason, he will be detained by force.
Families of Bosnian Serb soldiers fallen during the 1992-95 war, as well as students from Republika Srpska said they will hold protests in front of the offices of the state prosecutor in Sarajevo if that happens.
The prosecutor has summoned Dodik over Sunday’s referendum in which Bosnian Serbs voted overwhelmingly to keep Jan. 9 as a holiday in Republika Srpska.
The constitutional court had previously said the holiday discriminates against non-Serbs as it falls on a Serb Christian Orthodox holiday and had banned the referendum.
The holiday commemorates the day in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own state, igniting the 1992-95 war which killed 100,000 people and turned half of the country’s population into refugees. Bosniaks and Croats were persecuted and almost completely expelled from Republika Srpska’s territory.
The region didn’t gain independence after the war, but ended up as an autonomous part of Bosnia. Bosniaks and Croats who returned there view the holiday as a celebration of their expulsion while Republika Srpska marks the day with religious ceremonies, hinting the region is still meant just for Serbs.
Dodik said he will sue the Bosniak-Croat federation — the other half of Bosnia — for celebrating March 1, which marks the day Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia against the will of Bosnian Serbs.
March 1 is not a religious holiday and is not celebrated with religious ceremonies.