BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- The parliament in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s predominantly Serbian entity, Republika Srpska, has rejected a request from the country’s international overseer to revoke awards recognizing convicted war criminals.
Lawmakers at the entity's National Assembly voted on May 11 to endorse conclusions rejecting the request by High Representative Valentin Inzko. Two opposition parties abstained from voting.
In his first reaction to the move, Inzko called nationalist Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik "a coward" and said he would notify the European Union of the lawmakers’ decision.
In February, Inzko sent a letter to the National Assembly of Republika Srpska requesting the annulment within three months of decorations issued to people convicted of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian War.
Those awarded included Radovan Karadzic, Momcilo Krajisnik, and Biljana Plavsic, whose actions “shocked the world…and caused unimaginable human suffering,” Inzko wrote.
Dodik is the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency. The ruling majority in parliament is led by his Alliance of the Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).
More than 100,000 people were killed in the Bosnian conflict that ended in a U.S.-brokered peace agreement in 1995 that divided Bosnia into two entities -- the Muslim and Croat federation and Republika Srpska -- held together by joint central institutions.
Karadzic, Krajisnik, and Plavsic have been convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Karadzic, the wartime president of Republika Srpska, was sentenced to life in prison by the court in The Hague in 2019 for his role in the 1995 mass killings at Srebrenica that the tribunal ruled was genocide and persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia.
Dubbed the Butcher of Bosnia, he was also found guilty of terrorizing the Sarajevo population by shelling and sniping, and of taking UN peacekeepers hostage.
Plavsic, Karadzic's successor as president, was sentenced to 11 years in 2003 for committing war crimes. She was released in 2009 after serving two-thirds of her sentence.
Krajisnik, who was parliamentary speaker during the war, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2009 on charges of persecuting and forcibly expelling non-Serbs, and crimes against humanity. He was released in 2013 after serving two-thirds of his sentence, and died at the age of 75 in Republika Srpska.