AMSTERDAM, (Reuters) – The Dutch state is responsible for the deaths of three Muslim men after the fall of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war, a Dutch appeals court ruled yesterday, opening the door to compensation claims.
The ruling will touch a raw nerve with the Dutch, whose troops were in charge of the U.N. “safe area” of Srebrenica and were accused of cowardice when Bosnian Serb troops overran the enclave in July 1995.
In the ensuing dangerous and confusing days, Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves in Europe’s worst massacre since World War Two. Relatives of a local electrician who assisted the Dutch but was killed at Srebrenica and the troops’ local interpreter, whose father and brother are also believed to have died, lodged legal action against the Dutch state seeking damages.
The court ruled yesterday the state was responsible for the death of those men because U.N. troops from the Netherlands, known as Dutchbat, should not have allowed them to leave the safe area or fall into the hands of the Bosnian Serb forces.
“The Dutchbat had been witness to multiple incidents in which the Bosnian Serbs mistreated or killed male refugees outside the compound. The Dutch therefore knew that … the men were at great risk if they were to leave the compound,” the court said in its ruling.