Srebrenica relatives to appeal Dutch court ruling

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Relatives of those killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre Tuesday appealed a partial ruling in their favour before a Dutch court, demanding justice for all victims of Europe’s worst bloodshed since World War II.

Families of the victims had sued the Dutch government over the mid-1990 killings, accusing Dutch UN peacekeepers of failing to protect the almost 8,000 people slaughtered in the tragedy — whose 20th anniversary is being commemorated this week.

Last year, a Hague-based court ruled that the Dutch state was liable for the deaths of over 300 Bosnian men and boys who were killed by Bosnian Serb forces on July 13 that year after they were expelled from the UN safe haven.

But the court also ruled that the state could not be held to account over the actions of the Dutch troops before the fall of Srebrenica — and for thousands who died afterwards.

“We now want the court to rule that the Dutch state is also liable and responsible the other men who were murdered by the Bosnian Serbs,” said Marco Gerritsen, a lawyer representing more than 6,000 relatives of the victims.

“It’s about recognition for the relatives, for them it’s very important that the parties involved stand up and face their own responsibility,” Gerritsen told AFP.

The tiny Muslim enclave in eastern Bosnia was overrun by forces under the command of Ratko Mladic, who is currently on trial on genocide and war crimes charges over the war in Bosnia, particularly Srebrenica.

Mladic’s troops brushed aside the lightly-armed “Dutchbat” blue helmets in the supposedly “safe area” where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection.

In the subsequent days, almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered and their bodies dumped into mass graves.

The incident has been a source of national shame for the Netherlands, and was seen as a major failure on the part of the United Nations.

“Dutchbat did not protect the civilians and refugees in their care,” the lawyers representing the victims’ families added in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Dutch state last said year it would also appeal the court ruling.

Last month the Dutch state for the first time apologised to the relatives of three Bosnian Muslim men who were in the employ of the Dutch UN forces at Srebrenica, but who were expelled from the compound and subsequently murdered.