December 18, 2015 / 7:34 PM / 4 years ago

Bosnian Serbs reinstate ties with national police

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Police in Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic signed a deal on Friday to re-establish cooperation with the national police force, eight days after breaking off ties in a move that fuelled doubts over whether the fractured country could hold together.

Last week’s crisis was triggered when the national force, known as SIPA, launched a raid on a Bosnian Serb police station and municipal buildings as part of an investigation into war crimes committed during Bosnia’s 1992-95 conflict.

The reason for the U-turn was not clear, although the European Union had criticised the severing of cooperation as a threat to the unity of the judiciary in Bosnia.

The new agreement with SIPA was signed by Serb Republic police director Gojko Vasic, and the regional interior ministry said it was looking forward to “fair cooperation and professionalism”.

The Dayton peace accords that ended the Bosnian war divided the country into a Serb Republic and Bosniak-Croat federation, and created a complex legal system with a total of 14 state, regional and cantonal police forces.

The judiciary was set up under international pressure to investigate and try cases of war crimes and organised crime in the divided Balkan country, but Bosnian Serb politicians dispute its authority.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik is already threatening to hold a referendum on the jurisdiction of the state court, a move criticised by the West as a violation of the Dayton accords.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela, writing by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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