Bosnia, republika srpska.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Fena / ml

The Defence Ministry of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday opened an official investigation into the deployment of a dozens of servicemen of the country's army in a controversial ceremony marking the Serb entity day, January 9, in Banja Luka, despite an explicit ban issued by the ministry last week.

Some 40 members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Armed Forces, which originates from the Bosnian Serb army, lined up around noon Monday in downtown Banja Luka, with its commander reporting to the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanic.

The ministry will inform the Bosnia and Herzegovina tripartite presidency of the findings of the investigation.

The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has declared the commemoration of January 9 unconstitutional and abolished the holiday.

The NATO headquarters in Sarajevo warned that any involvement of members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Armed Forces in commemorating January 9 would be a clear violation of laws and of their pledge of allegiance to Bosnia and Herzegovina and would provide a basis for disciplinary action and dismissal.

The international community's High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, said on Tuesday that it was inappropriate to celebrate January 9 as the Serb entity's day, comparing it with a situation in which the day when the quisling Nazi-style Independent State of Croatia was established would be celebrated.

"For the international community, there is only the Dayton Treaties-based Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska that gained its legitimacy on 21 November 1995 in Dayton," he said in a comment published on the Sarajevo portal faktor.ba.

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