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Dutch court rules state shares blame for Srebrenica

A civil court in the Netherlands has ruled that the country shares the blame for the deaths of 300 Muslim men killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. These 300 had sought sanctuary at a compound held by Dutch UN troops.

The court's decision Wednesday in The Hague was in response to a claim a group called Moethers of Srebrenica, representing relatives of the more than 8,000 victims that were killed by Serbian troops in the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian War.

The decision said the Dutch state was liable for the deaths of 300 men who were killed in the massacre. These 300 men had sought refuge at a compound controlled by the Dutchbat (the name of the Dutch UN force) called Potocari. When Serbian troops overran Srebrenica, the men were ordered to leave Potocari.

"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," the court said.

As Serbian forces closed in on Bosnians during the war, many sought safe haven in the town of Srebrenica, which was being held by UN troops from the Netherlands.

But the UN troops surrendered the town without a fight when the Serbians under general Ratko Mladic advanced, allowing many Muslim men and boys to be taken by the Serbs. Over 8,000 were killed in Srebrenica and buried in unmarked graves.

"By cooperating in the deportation of these men, Dutchbat acted unlawfully," the court said.

Relatives of the 300 men referred to in the court ruling are entitled to compensation, the court said.

mz/msh (AFP, dpa)