Dutch state apologizes for 3 Srebrenica deaths
the Netherlands, The Netherlands has for the first time apologized to relatives of Bosnian Muslim men murdered at Srebrenica in 1995, the Dutch defense ministry said on Thursday.
Relatives of three men who were forced out of a U.N. compound won a long-running battle with the Dutch state in 2013, claiming that the lives of Muhamed Nuhanovic, his father Ibro and Rizo Mustafic could have been saved.
Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and buried in mass graves in mid-July 1995 by Bosnian Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic in Bosnia’s three-year civil war in which 100,000 people died.
The Serb forces brushed aside the lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers and overran the supposedly safe enclave, before committing the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.
“Last year in June Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert spoke to relatives and apologized,” the ministry said in a statement issued in The Hague.
“The State regrets that Mustafic and the Nuhanovics had to leave the compound,” it said.
The Dutch government has not previously apologized deaths at Srebrenica.
The complaint was made by relatives of Muhamed Nuhanovic, 27, who worked as a translator for the Dutch U. N. blue helmet contingent known as “Dutchbat.”
Mustafic was employed as an electrician.
The victims sought safety with the Dutch troops, but plaintiffs say they were forced to flee into the hands of the Bosnian Serb army under Mladic — himself now on trial for genocide and war crimes at the Hague-based Yugoslavia war crimes court.
The Dutch government has previously said it would pay the families 20,000 euros each in compensation, but a defense ministry spokeswoman declined to confirm that that was the sum paid.
The announcement of the apology was only being made now because talks with the victims’ relatives’ lawyers were ongoing.
The role of the Dutch peacekeepers at Srebrenica has cast a long shadow in the Netherlands, with a cabinet resigning in 2002 after a report laid some of the blame for the atrocity on the government.
Some 2,000 Dutch soldiers served as peacekeepers in Bosnia.