Saturday, 17 August, 2019

Dutch state partially liable for Srebrenica deaths -defense ministry

Dutch troops were posted to protect the UN safe area of Srebrenica but were overrun in July 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces who massacred nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys 2 See ANP AFP
Patty Aguilar | 19 July, 2019, 18:26

The Dutch state is only 10 percent liable for the deaths of nearly 350 Bosnian Muslim men who were executed at Srebrenica in July 1995, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled here on Friday.

The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the government has only "very limited liability" for the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 during the Bosnian War.

"Dutchbat [troops] acted unlawfully in the evacuation of 350 men", the court said in its decision. But the families say the Dutch force failed in two key respects: by cooperating with Mladic's force to allow refugees to be taken to buses through a narrow sluice that made it easy to separate males from the crowd; and, toward the end of the evacuation, by not offering 350 men and boys a chance to stay in the Dutch compound.

Hotic said the amount of compensation was not the priority for the Mothers of Srebrenica.

The supreme court had, however, slashed the Dutch state's liability from 30 to just 10 percent and said the Dutch UN mission receiving effective support from the worldwide community had a "slim" chance of preventing the killings.

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Kada Hotic, one of the Mothers of Srebrenica group of survivors present in court, told Reuters that the Dutch government was responsible for the start of the genocide in Srebrenica.

The overall Srebrenica massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys was the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II. "We won't leave it here, we will go to the European court to see if we have the right to justice as Muslims", said Munira Subasic, another plaintiff in the case.

"No matter if it's one percent, ten percent or 100 percent, they are responsible", she said. The estimate was lower than the lower court's previous ruling of 30%, meaning that the potential compensation is lower.

However, in January, the Supreme Court's Advocate General issued a non-binding advisory opinion calling the 2017 judgment "irrational" and saying it "cannot be upheld".

As part of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force during the Bosnian war, the Dutch battalion Dutchbat had the task of protecting the UN-designated "safe area" in Srebrenica from March 1994. As they did, Mladic's forces picked out the men, took them away and later killed them. "The state's liability is thus limited to 10 percent of the damages suffered by the surviving relatives of approximately 350 victims". The bodies were plowed into hastily dug mass graves, which were later bulldozed and scattered among other burial sites in an attempt to hide evidence of the massacre.

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