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Bosnia Investigates Lawyer Who Appealed Genocide Case Before UN Court


Bosnian lawyer Sakib Softic

Bosnian prosecutors said on March 10 that they are investigating an attorney who made a failed bid before the UN top court to reverse a 2007 ruling that cleared Serbia of genocide.

The International Court of Justice on March 9 rejected a request filed by lawyer Sakib Softic to reverse the court's 2007 exoneration of Serbia of direct responsibility for "ethnic cleansing" by Bosnian Serb forces it armed during the war.

The court said it could not act on the request because it was not made by a legitimate agent acting on behalf of Bosnia's tripartite presidency.

The court said that in May 2016, it had informed Softic, who was Bosnia's former lawyer before the court, that he was no longer authorized to represent Bosnia's presidency.

The court's rejection of the case prompted Bosnia's prosecutor to "open a case and investigate allegations" about Softic's role in bringing the appeal before the court, the prosecutors' spokesman Boris Grubesic told the Reuters news agency.

Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniak presidency's Muslim member, had pushed for an appeal of the 2007 ruling while his Serb and Croat counterparts did not support it.

Izetbegovic repeatedly said that Softic was a legitimate agent to bring the case before the court, based on the presidency's approval of him as counsel in 2002.

But his Serb counterpart and current presidency chairman Mladen Ivanic disputed the lawyer's legitimacy and sent letters to the court saying that the appeal did not reflect a consensus among the three presidency members.

The court case has caused political turmoil in Bosnia and roiled relations with neighboring Serbia.

Bosnian Serb lawmakers abstained from voting in the national parliament when the case was appealed before the UN in the past week, and after the court rejected the appeal, many lawmakers called for Izetbegovic's resignation.

The original court ruling in 2007 concluded that genocide had occurred only at Srebrenica, where about 8,000 Muslims were slaughtered by nationalist Serb forces, and not in other parts of Bosnia.

However, it found that Serbia was indirectly responsible because it failed to prevent the genocide.

With reporting by Reuters, BH-index.com, and the Independent Balkan News Agency
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