Dutch government partially liable in 300 Srebrenica deaths

Bosnian Muslim woman prays near a grave before mass funeral in Memorial Center in Potocari near Srebrenica Bosnia and Herzegovina

Appeal: Dutch Govt Partially Liable for 300 Srebrenica Deaths

The Dutch State is partly liable for the deaths of nearly 350 Muslim men during the massacre of Srebrenica in July 1995, the court of The Hague ruled in appeal on Tuesday.

The ruling only applies to around 300 Bosniaks who had taken refuge at the base in Potocari, not to the rest of around 8,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica who were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995 - a crime classified as genocide by worldwide court decisions.

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 July 1995 massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys was considered Europe's worst since World War Two and the case against the Netherlands was brought by 6,000 relatives of those who died.

The Hague Appeals Court upheld a decision from 2014 that ordered the Dutch state to compensate families of the victims.

Tuesday's ruling also found that the Dutch state is liable for some 30 per cent of any damages awarded, stopping short of awarding full compensation as it found it "was uncertain" whether the men would have survived if they had remained inside the compound.

Both the Dutch state and the relatives of victims were appealing against the 2014 verdict of a lower court which found that the state was liable for the deaths of about 350 men who were sent off the base along with other refugees.

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Srebrenica was a United Nations declared safe zone and numerous victims had fled to the area before discovering that Dutch troops defending the zone were only lightly armed and outnumbered.

The judge added that the Dutchbat soldiers had facilitated the separation of the men and the boys among the refugees.

Dutch officials said that no one could have predicted that "genocide would happen".

War broke out in Bosnia in April 1992 after months of growing tension between Serbs, Bosnians and Croats.

"They are still experiencing damages in all aspects of their lives and believe that the defence ministry should be held responsible", lawyer Michael Ruperti told Dutch late night talk show Jinek on Monday.

Munira Subasic, who leads an organisation called the Mothers of Srebrenica that brought the case, stood up and waved her finger at the judge, saying that "this is a huge injustice".

He is now going to study the judgment to see if it's possible to appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court. The Mothers of Srebrenica want the relatives of all the men murdered in the enclave's fall to be eligible for compensation.

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