Dutch state liable for more than 300 Srebrenica deaths, court rules

(Rex Features)

(Rex Features)

A Dutch court has ruled that the Netherlands was liable for the deaths of more than 300 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) from Srebrenica in 1995 because their peacekeeping troops failed to protect them.

Srebrenica was the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

The court in The Hague ruled on Wednesday that Dutch mediators failed to protect the more than 7,000 men and boys killed after Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

During the war, Bosniaks from the surrounding area took refuge in the town of Srebrenica as the Bosnia Serb army carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing, banishing the non-Serb population.

On the nights of July 12 and 13, 1995, the refugees were loaded onto buses or trucks and taken to isolated killing fields for execution. Their bodies were piled into mass graves, making identification of the victims a difficult and lengthy process.

The UN declared Srebrenica a “safe haven” for civilians in 1993. It fell in July 1995, after more than two years under siege.

Relatives had launched a lawsuit accusing Dutch UN peacekeepers of failing to protect the Muslim men and boys killed.

In the latest ruling, launched by relatives of the victims under the name ‘Mothers of Srebrenica‘, the court said that Dutch peacekeeping forces, Dutchbat, did not do enough to protect 300 of the Bosniaks and should have been aware of the potential for genocide to be committed.

“The state is liable for the loss suffered by relatives of the men who were deported by the Bosnian Serbs from the Dutchbat (Dutch battalion) compound in Potocari in the afternoon of 13 July, 1995,” Judge Larissa Elwin said.

“Dutchbat should have taken into account the possibility that these men would be the victim of genocide and that it can be said with sufficient certainty that, had the Dutchbat allowed them to stay at the compound, these men would have remained alive,” she ruled. “By cooperating in the deportation of these men, Dutchbat acted unlawfully.”

The two key figures of the wartime Bosnian Serb leadership — one-time President Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic — are on trial for war crimes at the UN tribunal in The Hague.

Last week marked the 19th anniversary of the genocide at the Potocari memorial centre, down the road from Srebrenica, where thousands of people attended. The remains of more than 6,000 people killed during the massacre have been found and reburied in Potocari.

The Dutch state has been ordered to pay compensation to the families of the 300 victims.

Originally Published on Voice of Russia UK. 


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