Srebrenica: Dutch Liable For 300 Deaths

The Netherlands has been ordered to pay compensation to the families of 300 people who were killed in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995.

Presiding judge Larissa Alwin said in The Hague that Dutch UN peacekeepers should have known the Bosnian Muslim men and boys handed over to the Bosnian Serbs from the Dutch compound were going to be killed.

There was evidence already, the judge said, that the Serbs were committing war crimes.

“By cooperating in the deportation of these men, Dutchbat acted unlawfully,” Ms Alwin said, referring to the name of the Dutch UN battalion.

But the court did clear the Netherlands of overall liability in the deaths of up to 8,000 men and boys who were killed, saying “Dutchbat cannot be held liable” for the fate of those who fled into the forests around Srebrenica and were later rounded up and murdered.

The victims were among thousands handed over to the Bosnian Serbs under the command of General Ratko Mladic, who overran the town on July 11, 1995.

Two days after he took control, the Dutch peacekeepers gave in to pressure from Mladic’s troops and forced thousands of Muslim families to leave the “safe haven” compound protected by the UN peacekeepers.

The Bosnian Serbs subsequently separated the men and boys from their families and took them away by truck.

They were killed and their bodies buried in mass graves in what was the single worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

Relatives of those who died were pleased at the ruling, but said it did not go far enough.

“Obviously the court has no sense of justice,” said Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica group that filed the case.

“How is it possible to divide victims and tell one mother that the Dutch state is responsible for the death of her son on one side of the wire and not for the son on the other side?”

Mrs Subasic said the organisation would “keep fighting for truth and justice”, adding: “And in the end we will win.”

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