Wed Sep 20 2017, 3:11:07 +03

Dutch State partly liable for deaths of Muslims during Srebrenica massacre: Hague court

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(Hague-AlummahWorld-Shawwal 06,1438H) Dutch State is partly liable for the deaths of almost 350 Muslim men during the massacre of Srebrenica in July 1995, the court of The Hague ruled in appeal on Tuesday.

According to the court, the Dutch battalion Dutchbat should not have sent the Muslim men who had fled to the Dutch headquarters in Potocari from the compound on July 13, 1995, right into the hands of the Bosnian Serb forces. The chance of survival if the Muslim men, later killed by the Bosnian Serb forces, had stayed was 30 percent, according to the court, a chance denied to them by the Dutch troops.

The relatives of the victims who were on the compound are, according to the court, entitled to financial compensation of 30 percent of the suffered damage.

"Based on several witness declarations, Dutchbat knew the Muslim men were in danger on the eve of July 12," the court ruled. "Stopping the evacuation was hard and dangerous, but when Dutchbat knew the men were in danger, it should have stopped cooperating. It was better to have chaos than cooperating with inhumane deportation."

As part of a United Nations peacekeeping force during the Bosnian War, the Dutch battalion Dutchbat had the task of protecting the UN-designated "safe area" in Srebrenica from March 1994. However, in July 1995 they were not able to prevent the Bosnian Serb forces from entering the enclave. After the fall, over 7,000 Muslim men and boys were taken away and killed by the Bosnian Serb forces.

The Hague court further ruled that the State is not liable for the handling of Dutchbat prior to the fall of Srebrenica, as this was within the line of command of the United Nations. The State is also not liable for all refugees who had sought refuge in the Srebrenica safe area and were later killed by the Bosnian Serb forces.

However, after the fall of Srebrenica a transitional period arose. The Dutch government interfered with the withdrawal of Dutchbat and the evacuation of refugees. As a result, the State is responsible for the acts of Dutchbat during the evacuation on July 12 and 13, 1995.