Netherlands partially responsible for Srebrenica massacre, court rules | News | DW | 19.07.2019
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Netherlands partially responsible for Srebrenica massacre, court rules

The Dutch Supreme Court upheld a ruling that Dutch UN peacekeepers had failed to protect 350 people in Bosnia in 1995. The judges found, however, that the Dutch government was only 10% liable for the atrocity.

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Dutch Supreme Court upholds Srebrenica liability

The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Netherlands had "very limited liability" for the deaths of 350 men and boys during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

The ruling upheld a decision made in 2017 at The Hague, but reduced the Dutch government's liability from 30% to 10%. The Dutch government accepted the verdict later on Friday.

During the Bosnian war (1992-1995), Dutch UN peacekeepers were tasked with protecting Muslim civilians from Bosnian Serb forces near the town of Srebrenica.

Read more: 20 years on, wrangling persists over what to call Srebrenica

Memorial cemetery in the village of Potocari, near Srebrenica, where UN troops were based at the time of the massacre

The Srebrenica massacre was the worst mass killing in Europe for over 50 years.

The Supreme Court found that the outnumbered peacekeepers expelled 350 men from their refuge in the knowledge that they would face possible abuse or death. "They took away the men's chance to stay out of the hands of the Bosnian Serbs," it said.

But the judges said they lowered the government's liability because "the chance that the male refugees would have escaped the Bosnian Serbs had they been given the choice to stay was slim, but not negligible."

Bosnian Serb forces went on to murder 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the worst mass killing in Europe since the end of World War II. Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic was sentenced to life imprisonment at a UN war crimes trial in 2017 for ordering the massacre.

Relatives of those killed at Srebrenica took the Netherlands to court in 2017 and in 2019. Munira Subasic, one of the people who brought the case, said on Friday that the Dutch were "responsible and they will always have a stain."

"We know what happened — we don't need this court to tell us," she said. "I am shaken. I did not expect this."

The Dutch Supreme Court's ruling reversed its declaration in January that the 2017 lower court judgment "could not be upheld."

Read more: Opinion: Ratko Mladic ― the exhibition of a monster

Ratko Mladic at his trial

The UN war crimes tribunal sentenced Ratko Mladic to life imprisonment in 2017

jns/amp (AP, Reuters)

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