Court: Dutch par­tially li­able for Srebrenica deaths

Tehran Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Dutch ap­peals court has con­firmed that the Nether­lands was partly li­able for the deaths of about 300 Mus­lims who were ex­pelled from a Dutch United Na­tions base after the sur­round­ing area was over­run by Bos­nian Serb troops.

The rul­ing by the Hague Ap­peals Court up­holds a 2014 de­ci­sion that Dutch peace­keep­ers could have known that the men seek­ing refuge at the base in the vil­lage of Po­to­cari would be mur­dered by Bos­nian Serb troops if forced to leave - as they were.

The Mus­lims seek­ing shelter were among about 8,000 peo­ple killed in the July 1995 mas­sacre, which the UN In­ter­na­tional Court for Jus­tice, in a 2007 ver­dict, ruled a geno­cide.

Tues­day’s rul­ing is seen as ex­cep­tional as the UN en­joys im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion.

How­ever, the Dutch case is al­most unique in hold­ing a state par­tic­i­pat­ing in a UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion li­able for its ac­tions.

Many of the Mus­lim vic­tims had fled to the UN-de­clared “safe zone” in Srebrenica only to find the out­num­bered and lightly-armed Dutch troops there un­able to de­fend them. They then headed to the nearby Dutch base.

Read­ing the com­plex rul­ing, Pre­sid­ing Judge Gepke Dulek-Scher­m­ers said that Dutch sol­diers “knew or should have known that the men were not only be­ing screened ... but were in real dan­ger of be­ing sub­jected to tor­ture or ex­e­cu­tion”.

The rul­ing re­lates only to the 300 men who had sought safety on the Dutch-con­trolled base.

In a de­par­ture from the ear­lier rul­ing, it said the Nether­lands should pay only 30 per­cent of dam­ages, as it es­ti­mated the odds at 70 per­cent that the vic­tims would have been dragged from the base and killed re­gard­less of what the Dutch sol­diers did.

The amount of dam­ages is determined in a sep­a­rate pro­ce­dure un­less the vic­tims and the state can reach a set­tle­ment.

Dutch state lawyers left the court build­ing with­out com­ment­ing on the rul­ing.

The Dutch gov­ern­ment re­signed in 2002 after ac­knowl­edg­ing its fail­ure to pro­tect the refugees, though the Nether­lands main­tains that the Bos­nian Serbs, not Dutch troops, bear re­spon­si­bil­ity for the killings.

Mladic is on trial for geno­cide with a ver­dict ex­pected later this year.

The court re­jected an ap­peal from rel­a­tives of other Srebrenica vic­tims, who ar­gued the Dutch gov­ern­ment should be held re­spon­si­ble for the pro­tec­tion of thou­sands more Mus­lims who had gath­ered out­side the base.

“This is a great in­jus­tice,” said Mu­nira Suba­sic of the ‘Moth­ers of Srebrenica’ group.

“The Dutch state should take its re­spon­si­bil­ity for our vic­tims be­cause they could have kept them all safe on the Dutch­bat (Dutch bat­tal­ions’) compo und.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iran

© PressReader. All rights reserved.