Court Rules Netherlands Partly Liable for Deaths of 350 Bosnian Muslims in 1995
Twenty-four years after a massacre during the war in Bosnia, victims continue to seek justice. Friday's (July 20) controversial Supreme Court ruling in The Hague leaves some survivors unsatisfied
The men were expelled from a United Nations base and executed at Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces.
“The responsibility, the liability is limited to 10 percent of the damages suffered by the remaining relatives of 350 male refugees who were staying at the compound of Dutchbat,” Dutch Supreme Court Spokesman Toon Heisterkamp said. “And the chances that the international community had been able to stop it or that the Bosnian Serbs would not have done that out of themselves were considered very slim by the Supreme Court.”
Around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in all were taken away and murdered in what was the worst mass slaughter on European soil since World War II.
Kada Hotic, a member of the survivors group “Mothers of Srebrenica” says the Dutch government was responsible for the start of the massacre in Srebrenica.
“If it’s one percent, ten percent or 100 percent, they are responsible. It is their cynicism, primitivism and their own incapacity that they can only recognize it for 10 percent,” Hotic said.
Several hundred outgunned Dutch peacekeeping troops had been assigned to protect a U.N.-designated “safe area” where thousands of Muslims had sought refuge from Bosnian Serb forces, among them 350 men who made it into the Dutch base.
The Supreme Court found that the Dutch forces could have allowed those men to stay in the base and that, by handing them over, they had knowingly and unlawfully sent them to possible abuse or death at the hands of the Bosnian Serb troops.
The Dutch ruling paves the way for the payment of damages to the families of victims and survivors of the killings at Srebrenica.
The amount of damages was not specified, but in an earlier case, the Dutch state paid tens of thousands of euros to several survivors.