March 10, 2017 / 2:16 PM / 3 years ago

Prosecutors to investigate Bosnian lawyer in failed genocide case

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnian prosecutors said on Friday they would investigate a lawyer at the heart of a failed legal appeal to the U.N.’s top court to revise a ruling clearing Serbia of genocide.

On Thursday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected a request to revise its 2007 exoneration of Serbia of direct responsibility for killings, rapes and “ethnic cleansing” by Bosnian Serb forces it armed during the war.

The court said it could not adjudicate because no competent body “on behalf of Bosnia as a state” had requested the revision.

Lawyer Sakib Softic had filed the request for a revision in February. The ICJ said on Thursday that in May 2016 it had informed Softic, Bosnia’s former lawyer at the court, that he was no longer authorized by Bosnia’s presidency to bring the application.

“The prosecutor’s office will open a case and investigate allegations in media relating to the role of Sakib Softic as an agent in the process of application for revision of the ruling against Serbia,” prosecutors’ spokesman Boris Grubesic told Reuters.

Bakir Izetbegovic, the Muslim Bosniak presidency member, had led the campaign calling for the ICJ ruling to be revised, while his Serb and Croat colleagues did not support it.

Izetbegovic has repeatedly said that Softic was a legitimate lawyer, based on the presidency’s authorization of him in 2002.

His Serb counterpart and current presidency chairman Mladen Ivanic had denied Softic’s legitimacy and sent two letters to the ICJ disputing that there was a consensus in the state body regarding the revision request.

The case has caused political crisis in Bosnia, with Serb lawmakers abstaining from voting in the national parliament this week in protest against the request for a revision by the ICJ.

The ICJ ruling 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 said Serbia had failed to prevent genocidal acts.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Andrew Roche

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